Much has been said about the meteoric rise of Andy Murray during the second half of 2012. The improvement in consistency of first serves, reduction in unforced errors every match and most notably the increase in winners made people take up and notice if the Scot is up there to fight for multiple grand slams and the coveted World number one. It was far from those memories tonight, meeting the two-time consecutive, three time overall and a player who took the phrase ‘Never say die’ to it’s true intent – Novak Djokovic. Under the glittering Melbourne lights, over a finely managed tournament the Serb, although not at his best, had the better of the 2012 US open winner who he lost to.
Coming into the match after a well fought victory over the legend in current tennis, Roger Federer in five sets, Murray’s opponent had an easier run up with straight set demolition of David Ferrer and an extra day rest.
The first set went eight minutes over an hour’s mark with no break point conversions leading to a tie break that was dominated by Andy Murray.
Not many people who have walked over the courts of grand slam tennis has had the mental toughness of the Serb to show no change of emotions on the first game of the second set, with cross court shots and drop volleys sending a message to his assailant that the night was still young. Murray’s aggressive followup earning three break points in the first game of the second set leading people to believe he was still in the match but failed to follow it up as the Serb won back all three break points and the game. After slipping 30-15 down on Murray’s serve at 2-2, Djokovic hit out in frustration kicking out the ball into the night sky. Perfect kick that would’ve won the praise of the ex-Bianconeri Alessandro Del Piero, who watched in the stands. Nerves tightened for the fans of the serb who held his composure the rest of the set to take it to another grid-lock. The two wins of serve over Murray in the tie breaker that led to another one-hour plus set handed the Serb the 2nd. Although the scores showed it was all equal, the movement by Djokovic was way better than his opponent who he has played against since the age of eleven. Eighteenth meeting between these two led to tennis aficionados believe the rivalry would bloom like the one between Clay court master Rafael Nadal and the perfectionist Federer, but today it remained a mere wishful thinking.
The third and fourth set was so different from the first two, in that the Serb practically owned the court breaking the Scot three times and buying back two break points during his serve. There were some pathways in the fourth set for Murray to get back his belief like once when he reached Djokovic’s drop shot but failed to get the winner by not more than an inch, but could that have led to a turnaround, we will never know. The world number one went on to win converting first Championship point to become the first player in the open era to win a grand-slam three times in a row. He also took over the final empty slot in the current trophy that looked happy to go to rest with it’s most worthy owner.
Murray’s conditioning, his sluggish movement, toe injury simply could not let him take advantage over an opponent whose arsenal of mighty serve-returns became his bane. Bring back Nadal, the tennis fan in me screamed becoming joyous to learn he will return courtside at the 2013 Brazil open.
Djokovic’s spins and cross court winners were few and far between, and the court seeming to have been made of glue as he spun unbalanced when performing his signature skating forehand during the first set did not lead to a loss to an opponent who’s gas seemed to simply run out in the middle of the third set. Three times the net acting Andy Murray expected after winning Federer, but one that led to Djokovic just getting the job done. It was only fitting that Novak Djokovic received his fourth Australian open title from four time winner Andre Agassi.
“What a joy, it’s an incredible feeling, winning the trophy once more, and it’s definitely my favorite Grand Slam, my most successful Grand Slam. I love this court.”, Djokovic said during his post-match remarks. Here’s to wishing many more victories for the world number one.
Final score – 6-7, 7-6, 6-3, 6-2.