Murray vs. Djokovic: Tennis Fans Should Get Used to This Matchup

Andrew GouldFeatured ColumnistJanuary 25, 2013

Novak Djokovic will face Andy Murray in the final round of the Australian Open.
Novak Djokovic will face Andy Murray in the final round of the Australian Open.Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray will enter the hard court at Melbourne Park to determine who wins the Australian Open in a matchup that will become all too familiar to tennis spectators over the next few years.

Two of the youngest and brightest stars will square off in a Grand Slam final for the third, but doubtfully the last, time. These two sensational players could spur the sport's next big rivalry.

There weren't exactly any major shocks along the way leading up to an anticipated showdown between Djokovic and Murray, especially with Rafael Nadal out of commission.

Stanislas Wawrinka gave Djokovic a run for his money, but eventually succumbed to the world's No. 1 player in five grueling sets.

For Murray, there was the obstacle of topping Roger Federer in the semifinals. That bout also lasted five sets before the 25-year-old eventually emerged victorious.

But it might have looked closer than it actually was. Federer squeaked out his two winning sets while Murray won his in more convincing fashion. Federer fought valiantly, but could not keep up with his younger adversary.

After years of falling short against Federer, Murray has finally gained the upper hand in the feud. They have met in three prior Grand Slam finals, with the veteran capturing all three first-place finishes. Always near the top, Murray could not take that extra step to join Federer, Djokovic and Nadal among the elite.

Murray launched the monkey off his back in his home nation by topping Federer at the 2012 Olympics. Now he has further cemented his place among the best by outlasting the Swiss star again.

While Federer is still a premier athlete, he's lost just enough pep in his step at age 31 to trail behind the younger Murray, who now thoroughly belongs in the upper-echelon of the sport's foursome of superstars. 

Djokovic has dominated the sport as of late, winning three Grand Slams in 2011 and the past two Australian Opens. The 25-year-old from Serbia is just hitting his stride and should be a mainstay at the sport's pinnacle for years.

Nadal will rejoin the fray soon and spice things up, but nobody's expecting the same two guys to face off in each of the four major tournaments' championships.

The fact that it's the same four, maybe even three if Federer deteriorates a bit more, lends itself to enduring feuds among the few top dogs.

But at the moment, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, both in their prime, are the two top players in tennis.