Novak Djokovic's remarkable four-set win over Andy Murray in Sunday's 2013 Australian Open men's final not only elevated his standing in the tennis history books, but it also turned the tide in an epic rivalry that is becoming more and more one-sided.
After this weekend's win over Murray in Melbourne, Djokovic leads the head-to-head series between the two players, 11-7, having taken out Murray in two of the last three Aussie Open finals.
While Murray's 2012 U.S. Open win over Djokovic signaled the Scotsman's arrival on the Grand Slam stage, he failed to follow it up Down Under this January. He has now dropped three straight matches to Djokovic at the Australian Open, falling to him there in a five-set semifinal match in 2012.
While Murray continues to finish as a runner-up at majors (five Grand Slam final defeats since 2008), Djokovic is making the most of his deep runs, cashing in on titles (five Grand Slam final wins since the start of 2011).
Djokovic has now won three straight matchups overall with Murray dating back to the Shanghai Masters last October.
There's no doubt that Murray-Djokovic is one of the best rivalries in tennis history, and certainly the best right now with Rafael Nadal still looking to make his comeback. Murray is just one week older than Djokovic (both will turn 26 in May) and the two stars began to blossom on the same stage around the same time (via Australian Open on Twitter):
That means we are sure to see plenty more high-stakes meetings between the two over the next few years.
Tennis fans can only hope we see a more improved Murray over the next few years, though, for the rivalry's sake. After all, Sunday's result proves that this rivalry is lacking. It's competitive, sure. But I would argue that many feel as if Djokovic is a much better player than Murray at this point in their careers.
Djokovic is a clear-cut world No. 1 while Murray hasn't yet shown us he's deserving of such praise.
Murray's constant runner-up status has inspired a lack of confidence from tennis fans over the years, and his four-set defeat in the 2013 Australian Open men's final only fuels the doubt.
The result of this year's Aussie Open final has surely impacted the way I and many other tennis fans view the Djokovic-Murray rivalry. It will always remain a rivalry, but until Murray takes the next step he will always be second-best to Djokovic.
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