Australian Open 2013: Biggest Keys for Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray in Final
Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray entered the Australian Open as the favorites to reach the championship match. Six rounds and two weeks later, they proved worthy of the hype and will now battle for the season's first Grand Slam title.
Djokovic is aiming for his third straight Australian Open title, which would make him the first player of the men's side to accomplish that feat in the Open era. Murray is looking to win his second straight major after winning the US Open to end last season.
If their previous encounters, including a five-set marathon at last year's Aussie Open, are any indication, tennis fans are in for quite a treat on Sunday. Let's take a look at the biggest key for each player in the highly anticipated men's final.
Novak Djokovic: Maintain Semifinal Form
David Ferrer is a terrific player. He's not on the same level as the top four, which would include Rafael Nadal when healthy, but he leads the next pack of players. So it wouldn't have been crazy to think he could have put up a fight against Djokovic in the semifinals.
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Instead, he was torn to shreds by the Serbian star. It was an extremely impressive performance by Djokovic, and if he can bring the same level of play to the court for the final, he will end up raising the champion's trophy for a third straight time.
When the five-time major title winner is at his best, he combines elite defense with the ability to hit winners off both wings and endless energy to overwhelm his opponents. That's exactly what was on display against Ferrer.
Staying on that level is difficult, of course. That's especially true after having two full days off. It will be interesting to see if Djokovic comes flying out of the gates or is forced to shake off a little rust. If he plays his best tennis, he wins the match.
Andy Murray: Attack Top Seed's Serve
When Murray upended Djokovic to win the US Open last summer, he broke serve eight times. In Djokovic's last three wins in the rivalry, Murray broke him a total of seven times. So it's clear the Scot has to make inroads in the return game to have a chance.
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It's really the ultimate matchup. Murray is one of the sport's best returners and Djokovic is one of its most efficient servers. So it's no surprise that the player who gains the upper hand in that battle usually controls the match.
Djokovic has been on fire throughout the event on serve. He's won at least 70 percent of points on his first serve in every match and at least 55 percent on his second serve, which is when opponents usually try to take a crack at a quick winner.
For Murray to win, he needs those percentages around 60 and 40, which they were in the aforementioned US Open match. He has won at least five return games in every match of the tournament, so Murray should feel confident with that aspect of his game.
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