The 2014 men's tennis season was far more unpredictable than in years' past, from Stan Wawrinka's triumph in Australia to the shocking final between Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori in New York. But 2015 began with a much more familiar sight.
Novak Djokovic as the Australian Open champion.
Djoker secured his fifth title at Melbourne Park Sunday with a 7-6(5), 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-0 win over Andy Murray, marking the third time he has bested the Scotsman in the Australian final.
He still hasn't quite reached Nadal-at-Roland-Garros status, but the Serb's dominance at this tournament is still staggering, as SportsCenter's Twitter feed noted:
Novak Djokovic has now won 32 of his last 33 matches in Australian Open. http://t.co/swaH5cUTbJ2015-2-1 12:28:51
Jack Cunniff stats man pointed out an unbelievable stat demonstrating Djokovic's success against the world's best players:
Jack Cunniff @jrcunniff
Since 2011, Djokovic's record vs. Top Ten players is 91-25 (78.4%). He has won 10 straight, and 19 of last 21. #AusOpen2015-2-1 12:44:59
He now stands alone as the most decorated Australian Open champion in the Open era (Andre Agassi and Roger Federer each have four wins), with only Australian legend Roy Emerson (six titles) in front of him. He talked about his success in Australia after the match:
"It's incredible. Every year I come back here I perform some of my best tennis" #Djokovic #ausopen http://t.co/tjiCowvtJF2015-2-1 13:35:05
Nevertheless, as the numbers suggest, it wasn't always easy for Djokovic, who won 136 total points in the match to Murray's 118. Here's a look at some of the other major statistical categories:
|2015 Australian Open Stats|
|Novak Djokovic||Category||Andy Murray|
|82/136 (60.3%)||Service Points Won||64/118 (54.2%)|
|9/16 (56.0%)||Break Points Won||5/12 (42.0%)|
|26/37 (70%)||Net Points Won||23/33 (70%)|
The first two sets were wars of attrition, lasting 72 and 80 minutes, respectively. Each went to a tiebreak, with Djokovic capturing the first and Murray taking the second.
At 4-3 and on serve in the third set, it appeared we were in store for a marathon. But Murray gifted Djokovic a break with a double fault, and the World No. 1 was merciless in taking advantage of the mistake. He won the next game to take the set and proceeded to put Murray away with a 28-minute bagel.
That double fault was the turning point, and it encapsulated one of Murray's greatest flaws throughout the tournament: his second serve.
Murray won just 34 percent (14 of 31) of his second serves against Djokovic (who won 62 percent of his), leading to nine breaks for the latter. That particular double fault cost him the third set and ultimately the match, and he also had another untimely one during the first-set tiebreak.
Tennis View Magazine's Tumaini Carayol gave an idea of the lack of velocity on Murray's second serve:
Still, while this will be a difficult pill to swallow, Murray has no reason to hang his head. He put it best, via Sports Illustrated:
After a tumultuous 2014 campaign, the 27-year-old Scotsman bounced back in impressive fashion over the past two weeks. He was fantastic all tournament, and for two-and-a-half sets on Sunday, he stood toe-to-toe with the best player in the world.
Following this performance, there's no reason to believe he'll go another year without a Grand Slam or a Masters 1000 title.
This is Djokovic's day, though. The new father reaffirmed his spot atop the tennis world, and it's clear that when he's at the top of his game, it's going to take a near-perfect performance to top him.