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2015 Australian Open men's final preview: Can Murray be fourth time lucky?

FEATURED COLUMNIST
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2.78K   //    31 Jan 2015, 17:13 IST
Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray

After two weeks of intense action at Melbourne Park, it’s now down to the final two. World No. 1 Novak Djokovic will take on World No. 6 Andy Murray in the final of the 2015 Australian Open at the Rod Laver Arena on Sunday.

Both players enter into the summit clash after contrasting wins in their semifinal encounters. While Murray was at his best while beating Tomas Berdych in four sets on Thursday, the Serb looked a bit off-colour and was made to stretch in his match versus 2014 Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka.

Note: You can watch the final live on Sony Liv Sports here.

This will be Djokovic’s fifth appearance in the final at the Rod Laver Arena and Murray’s fourth. The significant point to note, however, is that this will be the 27-year-old Scot’s first final appearance since the 2013 Wimbledon final, where he overcame Djokovic in straight sets.

The two have played 23 matches against one another with Djokovic leading the head-to-head 15-8. More importantly, though, the two have met on 19 occasions on hardcourts and the World No. 1 has a decisive advantage here as well, leading 13-6.

However, Murray can gain a bit of confidence from the fact that when it comes to Grand Slam finals, there is nothing to differentiate the two – each has won two times in the four finals that they have met in so far.

Novak Djokovic – Road to the Final

First Round: Aljaž Bedene 6-3 6-2 6-4

Second Round: Alex Kuznetsov 6-0 6-1 6-4

Third Round: Fernando Verdasco 7-6 6-3 6-4

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Fourth Round: Giles Müller 6-4 7-5 7-5

Quarterfinals: Milos Raonic 7-6 6-4 6-2

Semifinals: Stanislas Wawrinka 7-6 3-6 6-4 4-6 6-0

Andy Murray – Road to the Final

First Round: Yuki Bhambri 6-3 6-4 7-6

Second Round: Marinko Matosevic 6-1 6-3 6-2

Third round: João Sousa 6-1 6-1 7-5

Fourth Round: Grigor Dimitrov 6-4 6-7 6-3 7-5

Quarterfinals: Nick Kyrgios 6-3 7-6 6-3

Semifinals: Tomas Berdych 6-7 6-0 6-3 7-5

Match Time: 14:00 IST

Djokovic vs Murray matches have traditionally been long-drawn affairs, with their similar styles of play producing intense and gruelling rallies that leave both men exhausted. The player who manages to dial up the aggression at the crucial points will likely hold the key to this final, with precision being at a premium. 

Both Djokovic and Murray like to use their court speed to wear down their opponents, which is why the first strike will hold so much importance. The serve will be a major factor too; while Murray’s average second serve would necessitate him to register a high first serve percentage, Djokovic will have to be forceful with his second serve considering Murray’s famed return.

The Serb might not have been in the greatest of form in the semifinals, but having won seven Grand Slams and specifically, four of them being Australian Open titles, he certainly has enough experience to pull off a fifth win at the Rod Laver Arena.

Prediction: Novak Djokovic

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FEATURED COLUMNIST
Massive Rafael Nadal fan. Occasional writer. blog: dravidkeeda.wordpress.com
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