Djokovic vs. Murray: 6 Things We Learned from 2013 Australian Open Final
The reigning world No. 1 was simply dominant in coming from a set down to clinch the match, establishing himself as the true king of the Australian Open.
The result wasn't all easy for Djokovic, and certainly not for Murray, with both players pushed to their limits. As a result, we learned a great deal about the two men involved in this final and how that will impact the remainder of 2013.
Here's six things we learned from the 2013 Australian Open final.
1. Not a Mental Collapse from Murray
When many who didn't watch the match learn of the result and the circumstances in which Novak Djokovic came from behind to win, they will all think the same thing: What a choke by Andy Murray.
After all, the Scotsman has been known to crumble under pressure in Grand Slam semifinals and finals, and having won the first set, you'd have expected him to do better here. You'd have expected him to at least break the Djokovic serve.
But this result was the furthest thing from an Andy Murray collapse; the Brit was huge in defeat and proved himself to be a genuine talent on center court.
He held serve against arguably the best returner in the game for two whole sets, and had he won that second-set tiebreak, the result would have been entirely different.
It would be Murray's body that would give in—not his mind—as the rigors of his laboring five-set semifinal against Roger Federer began to show in the third set. He received injury treatment for his toes and looked to be in absolute agony at the end, unable to turn or stop and go in a different direction at all.
This was not a mental collapse from Murray, and the fact he hung in there for so long against Djokovic is a testament to just how strong he was mentally here.
2. Murray Heroic in Defeat
As a result of that mental strength, Andy Murray was completely heroic in defeat.
Evidently struck down by the injury gods, Murray pushed through the pain barrier and managed to fight Novak Djokovic all the way until the end of the match.
Even in the last game of serve, with the Joker leading 5-2 and cruising, Murray pushed Novak all the way until the final point of the match. He would not give in, and you'd think that the Scotsman will have won himself a lot of fans with the way he carried himself.
He will no doubt be bitterly disappointed with the loss, but he should feel differently from this one as he might have felt from other Grand Slam defeats.
Murray carried himself with dignity and class, and when he could have simply retired hurt or thrown in the towel and given up, he fought right to the end.
And that's the mark of a true champion.
3. Djokovic Clutch When Required
Turning our attention to Novak Djokovic, it was clear throughout this match that the world No. 1 truly was clutch when he needed to be.
In a final where break points and broken serves were essentially non-existent in the first few sets, Djokovic's ability to come through with the goods was truly phenomenal.
Times like when he was down 0-40 and 1-0 early in the second set but would reel off five straight points to level the set on serve. He may well have lost the championship had he lost that game.
Even when he was two sets to one up, he went down 0-30 and then 30-40 in his opening service game of the set, yet he came through with the goods both times.
Djokovic delivered when he needed to here, coming up big at the right times. Murray would not break his serve all game.
4. Murray's Serve a Game-Changing Weapon
It might not have seemed as evident in this match as it was against Roger Federer, but Andy Murray's serve is becoming a real game-changing weapon for the Scotsman.
Murray went a set and a half in this one without dropping a point on his first serve—a testament to just how strong Ivan Lendl has gotten this serve to be.
The 2012 U.S Open champion would serve fewer aces than Novak (eight to seven) but won a staggering 81 percent of his first-serve points for the match and would keep one of the best returns in the game to just 33 percent retuning points won.
He slammed down over 20 aces to get past Federer, and his serve nearly pulled him out of trouble in that third set when his body started giving up on him.
Alas, it was not to be this weekend for Murray, but his serve is definitely going to be something to look out for through the rest of the 2013 season.
As a very early prediction, I'd say watch out for it at the grass courts of Wimbledon, where the ball will skid through with pace on his big serve.
5. Backhand Still an Issue for Novak
It will most likely get lost in the jubilation and deserved praise of Djokovic in this final, but he showed that his backhand is susceptible to inconsistency throughout this match.
Had Murray been completely fit and healthy, you'd have imagined that the backhand would not have survived as well as it did throughout the night.
The statistics aren't great for Djokovic, with the now-four-time champion hitting significantly less winners and more unforced errors on his backhand than the forehand.
Where the forehand had 27 winners, the backhand had just 11, and it also had a staggering 29 unforced errors. Even the statistics don't present just how poor Djokovic's backhand was here, giving up cheap points during the rally and allowing the Murray serve to continue to win easy points.
Had he not come through in that third set and won the 2013 Australian Open title, Djokovic's backhand would have been the main culprit for his failures.
Even the best have improvements to make.
6. Djokovic Truly Is the World No. 1
Let us not take away from any of the brilliance and dominance Novak Djokovic displayed.
The Serbian international became just the first man in the Open era to win three consecutive Australian Open crowns, and he did so in style this year.
He completely and utterly deserves his ranking as the best player in the men's game, with no other player parallel to him right now. Sure, there is the Big Four, but he stands alone as the greatest in the game.
Djokovic is the game's Everest right now, and perhaps the most scary part is he's only 25.
What did you make of the 2013 Australian Open men's final?
Comment below, or hit me up on Twitter: Follow @dantalintyre