What We Learned from Novak Djokovic's Quarterfinal Defeat of Andy Murray

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What We Learned from Novak Djokovic's Quarterfinal Defeat of Andy Murray
USA Today

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and No. 8 Andy Murray played two compelling tie-breaking sets in the men's quarterfinals of the U.S. Open on Wednesday night. Eventually fatigue caught up to Murray and Djokovic pulled away to win the match 7-6, 6-7, 6-2, 6-4.

With Djokovic's quarterfinal win, he advanced to his eighth straight U.S. Open semifinals. So what are the takeaways from Wednesday’s match between Djokovic and Murray?

Djokovic fitness or focus shouldn't be questioned

When Djokovic lost in the third round of the Western and Southern Open in August, Kevin Mitchell of the The Guardian thought the 27-year-old might have had an underlying health issue. In Wednesday's quarterfinal match, Djokovic put those thoughts to bed.

Djokovic defeated Murray in a match that lasted 3 hours, 32 minutes. While Murray looked exhausted, Djokovic’s energy appeared to be at its highest level since he won Wimbledon in July. 

The Serbian will play No. 10 ranked Kei Nishikori of Japan. Djokovic will probably be the fresher player of the two because Nishikori has played back-to-back five-set matches to reach the semifinals. 

Djokovic got married a little while after winning Wimbledon in July, and he and his wife are expecting their first child in a few months. Some people, like Larry Fine from Reuters, have questioned whether Djokovic would be able get past his post-Wimbledon struggles. Djokovic has answered his doubters and, so far, he is playing like the best tennis player in the world.

Murray still isn't back to top form

Murray had multiple fatigue problems throughout the U.S. Open. Last week during his first round match, the Scot battled cramps and at times didn't look like his conditioning was back to his 2013 level.

On Wednesday, Murray looked excellent during the first two sets, but quickly became tired after the second. Murray had back surgery over a year ago and just hasn't been the same player that he was prior to the procedure.   

Since winning Wimbledon in 2013, Murray has only beaten one top-10 player, nor has he won a single tournament. The hiring of Amelie Mauresmo as his tennis coach hasn't helped Murray much. With more time with Mauresmo and a little bit more rest, maybe Murray can regain the form that made him a top five player.

Djokovic is clearly the odds on favorite to win his third straight major

Sure Roger Federer and Tomas Berdych have both played well during this year's U.S. Open, but Djokovic remains the favorite. Murray played as good of a two sets as he has played since the 2013 Wimbledon Championship, but Djokovic was able to force Murray into a lot of mistakes in the third and fourth sets.

Aces Net Points Won Break Points Won
Novak Djokovic 8 24/34 71% 7/10 70%
Andy Murray 9 10/21 48% 4/16 25%

usaopen.org

Murray made 65 unforced errors during the match. If you consider this number of errors alongside the fact that Djokovic was able to win 71 percent of his net points, then it is easy to see why the World No. 1 is moving on to the semifinals. 

Djokovic is at his best when he is able to have success at the net and win his break points. While Federer and Berdych will make for an interesting matchup, there is no reason to believe that anyone else but Djokovic should be the favorite to win his second U.S. Open title. 

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