Novak Djokovic: Keys to Victory in Australian Open Final
Today, two of tennis' greatest heavyweights will go head-to-head in what will be a repeat of the last Grand Slam final, when Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic faced off at Flushing Meadows for the U.S. Open title.
In the end, Djokovic lost that battle, and Murray walked away with the first Grand Slam title of his career, but as the World No. 1, there's no reason the tables can't be turned in Melbourne, especially given how successful Djokovic has been here in the past, as he won each of the last two Australian Open titles.
Both players were impressive in their Australian Open Semifinal matches, as Djokovic made quick work of David Ferrer, while Murray took down 17-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer in a five-setter.
Heading into tonight's match, here's a look at some of the keys to the match for Djokovic if he hopes to exact revenge upon Murray.
Limit the Unforced Errors
It's no secret that Murray's most successful when he gains momentum and causes his opponent to make uncharacteristic mistakes, as was the case during the Scot's win over Federer this week. Murray committed just 47 errors to Federer's 60.
It's also no secret that Djokovic, while fiery at times, is one of the tour's most unflappable and consistent players, and doesn't get rattled easily.
However, when the pair met at last year's U.S. Open, Djokovic committed 65 unforced errors, which was a big reason why the Serb dropped the match's first two sets, thus digging himself a hole that was ultimately too big to overcome.
Get Ahead Early
To date, Djokovic and Murray have met on big stages four times (three Grand Slams and one Olympic Semifinal), with each man winning twice.
Of the four meetings, in both of Djokovic's wins—which came in the Semifinals of the 2012 Australian Open and the 2011 Finals a year prior, Djokovic won the first two sets in each, setting himself up for victory early.
During his two losses to Murray, Djokovic dropped the first two sets in each (though it should be noted that the Olympic match was a three-set affair), which indicates that Djokovic will have a much better chance at a three-peat if he wins at least the first set.
Return Murray's First Serves
During Djokovic's last three matches of the tournament, he's racked up 23 aces. But the only time he was legitimately challenged was during his five-set fourth round clash with Slanislas Wawrinka, who recorded 16 aces to the Djoker's seven.
At the other end of the court, Murray's serve has been dominant as of late, as he's served up 40 aces in his last three matches, including an incredible 21 against Federer.
For Djokovic, who is known to double fault much more frequently than Murray, keeping Murray from getting a wide advantage in aces by returning more of his first serves during today's match is critical. Otherwise Murray will get into a rhythm, just like he did against Roger.
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