Novak Djokovic Grinds Andy Murray Down to Three-Peat at 2013 Australian Open
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In the last decade, we have seen dominance in tennis like never before.
Roger Federer's seven titles on the ancient and revered grass of the Wimbledon Championships.
Rafael Nadal seemed to be one with the red earth as he also earned seven titles at Roland Garros.
It appears now that another addition of tennis ascendancy and sole authority is taking shape at yet a different Grand Slam tournament: World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has stretched himself to a third consecutive Australian Open title and fourth overall on the slow, Plexicushion hard courts.
After a tight and highly competitive opening set, in which Great Britain's Murray heroically faced down five break points, Murray eventually prevailed in the tiebreak by 7-2. The Serbian fought harder and came back stronger, not allowing any disruptions in focus.
Though being mostly outplayed from the back of the court in another brutally close set, the Slam wonder Down Under, Djokovic, held his nerve and kept his cool, taking the second set 7-6. Murray earned three break points in the set, but could not convert.
It became clear as the match progressed Murray was ailing. There was talk of blisters and general foot discomfort, signaling perhaps that the 31-year-old Federer had taken something away from Murray's fitness after their four-hour, five-set match in the semifinals.
Djokovic took note, and it would become a doomed night for the Brit. He would end the match with 29 winners to 46 unforced errors. Djokovic, becoming the straightforward aggressor in the final two sets and breaking Murray's serve three times, finished with higher tallies of 47 winners to 61 unforced errors.
Murray's inability to defend Djokovic's advances on his second serves would prove devastating. He would finish with 35 percent points won on his second serve in the final two sets, and 46 percent in the match.
After taking the third set, 6-3, Djokovic was unrestrained and unrelenting. He painted the lines convincingly point after point and finished with efficiency at net, winning 85 percent of the points in the forecourt.
It was all too much for the wounded Murray. The fourth and final set would end after 46 minutes of oppressive Serbian tennis, as Djokovic roared and the audience roared back. Though there would be no shirt removal, Djokovic's energy and fiery passion was undeniable. And the look on Murray's face would paint the picture of a bent, but not broken, man.
In the ensuing trophy ceremony, Murray would note Djokovic's command of Melbourne Park, saying (via Youtube): "There's very few people who've managed to do what he's done tonight. A very well-deserved champion. So well done, again."
To a delightedly cheering crowd, Djokovic couldn't stop beaming as he held the trophy in his arms (via Youtube),
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It's obvious why.
We all must now acknowledge the supremacy that is Novak Djokovic in Australia. His game places itself uniquely in Rod Laver Arena like a piece in a puzzle. His flexible, wiry body seems to have been almost endowed by a higher power to be impeccable on the courts Down Under.
He slips and slides and squeaks and glides on the blue composite surface at the Happy Slam. His topspin forehands seem to bounce uncomfortably high at his opponents' chests, and his flattened backhands whip across the net at unreachable, lightning speeds.
I think tennis fans would agree with me if I said that Novak Djokovic may have had an exact replica of the Aussie Open court built in his backyard, a la 2001's "Ocean's Eleven" and its flawless standards.
Aside from the technical standpoint as to why he is so successful at the Australian Open, Djokovic's resolve, confidence and undying belief that he has what it takes to get the job done under any circumstances are what make him so unbeatable on this court.
It was his refusal to be beaten when he was pushed to the brink in his fourth-round, five-set encounter against Stanislas Wawrinka—facing and saving numerous break points that likely would have ended his run in Australia—that saw him overcome ultimate tension and odds.
Congratulations to Novak Djokovic. Can he make it seven Down Under like his fellow contemporaries have at their respective domains? Only time will tell.
And the tennis world can't wait.
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