And Novak does it again

Jan 30, 2011

Novak Djokovic outplayed Andy Murray in their final match up to winthe Australian Open 2011, and he adds the title to the one he received at the same tournament in 2008.

It was sweltering hot in Melbourne as the match rumbled into view, not that the heat was needed. Things were already tense and viewers in the stadium and at home were sweating out their nerves. This was a strange final: no Rafa, no Roger. Murray was wanting his first Grand slam title, Djokovic his second. Novak Djokovic had the slight favourite edge over Andy Murray, having beaten Roger Federer in the previous round, but both men are well-known for being volatile and unpredictable in these sorts of moments.

It all started as you would expected; a good to-ing and fro-ing between the pair as the game got underway. But there were already signs that the immense speed and elasticity of Djokovic was going to be a factor throughout the game. He was a white blur behind the baseline. Both players were, understandably, nervous. The first couple of games had a handful of errors from both sides.

Once the first few games were underway, Djokovic didn’t just settle into a rhythm; he kick started another gear completely that seemed to sweep Murray away. He took the first set after a hot and sweaty 59 minutes, and it was by no means over at that point. Murray is generally a good player at coming back into matches. Novak, however, seemed adept at stopping him from doing so.

The pace and the power continued on into the second set, and at one point Murray was facing a bagel: 5-0 down in the second set, and the Murray fans in the crowd started to go a little quiet. There was a sudden resurgence, probably at the idea of losing a set in the championship final to love. Murray broke Djokovic’s game for the first time, only for Djokovic to break right back and serve out the set in a tense game.

You would have to be watching the game to understand that two sets down wasn’t going to be just the start of a potential five match marathon. Djokovic was in his element. He didn’t run to the finish line, in fact Murray got himself in the way as much as possible. It seemed at certain points like Murray might turn it all around, and refused to be broken again. But when the break came again, it was the final stamp on the game. Murray netted on Djokovic’s championship, and the Serb celebrated his second Grand Slam title.

As ever, Murray was magnanimous in defeat. It must be torture to sit for the third time as runner-up in the final ceremony, but he was simply outplayed by a better player. Djokovic just refused to let him get a toe ahead in the entire game, and although Murray but up his best fight Novak seemed to be on the form of his life. Where on earth that came from, I have no idea. A year ago his serve was poor and he was facing trials and tribulations with his game and form. Thankfully his good run of health seems to have come at the best of times too; despite a few contact-lens related incidents and a generous dependence on eye-drops, there were no breathing troubles or hay fever to contend with.

Djokovic dedicated the trophy to his family and girlfriend, and for Serbia. But the best part of his win, for me, was his reaction when he finally (after a little strip tease for the audience) reached his corner’s box. There was an almighty roar as team and player celebrated his victory: this was not a teary, emotional, once in a lifetime event, this was the return of the Novak Djokovic that won back in 2008. This was Djokovic on his way to many more Grand Slams, and his team and Novak himself knew it.

Commiserations go to Andy Murray. Pundits will either comfort or criticise him, but there isn’t much more to say than there was a year ago when he lost to Roger Federer in the 2010 final. He has to win a Grand Slam, it is as simple as that. With that, he would be an unstoppable force, but for now he is still just the man who ‘almost’ . Whether it is a mental or a physical block, only he knows, but who knows which one is worse for a player trying to get his hands on a title.

Congratulations Djokovic: you’re back. This is the Novak that won in 2008, probably an even better version. Older, stronger, more self-confident. If he plays like this throughout the year, he will make it an interesting year to behold.

-          SophieG

Written by: SophieG

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