2013 Australian Open – Men’s singles final preview

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    Can anyone stop Novak Djokovic? (AAP Image/Barbara Walton)

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    Open era history will be made on Sunday night. Either Novak Djokovic will equal Andre Agassi and Roger Federer in winning four Australian Open titles, or Andy Murray will become the first man to back up his first Grand Slam title with the one immediately afterwards.

    Both players are 1-1 in Grand Slam finals, but Djokovic has the edge 2-1 in Grand Slam matches (Djokovic won their only other meeting at last year’s Australian Open semi-finals). Djokovic also leads the head-to-head overall, 10-7.

    Based on these statistics, you’d expect Djokovic to win easily, but Murray shouldn’t be taken lightly, given his form so far this year.

    Both players have had relatively easy runs to the final, however both were pushed to five sets by Switzerland’s top two players: Djokovic was forced into five sets by Stanislas Wawrinka, while Andy Murray had his work cut out against Roger Federer.

    Murray had the easier run into the business end though, not dropping a set prior to the semi-final against Roger Federer, while Djokovic was tested by Tomas Berdych in the final eight, before destroying David Ferrer in the final four.

    Murray’s victory over Federer now means the ATP’s ‘big four’ (Federer, Rafael Nadal, Djokovic and Murray) have now all beaten each other at the Grand Slams.

    Last year, each of the four won what appeared to be, historically, their best Grand Slam (Djokovic winning the Australian Open, Nadal the French, Federer Wimbledon and Murray the US Open).

    Additionally, all four have an Olympic Medal around their necks (Murray and Nadal gold, Federer silver and Djokovic bronze).

    Retaining the Australian Open title for three years in a row has been elusive in the Open era, whereas it has been achieved at the other three Grand Slams.

    Rafael Nadal was able to keep his French Open title every year since 2005, except in 2009. Roger Federer was able to defend his Wimbledon (2004-2007) and US Open (2005-2008) titles for a lengthy period of time as well.

    Now, Novak Djokovic can become the first man since Roy Emerson in the late 1960s to retain his Australian Open title for three years in a row.

    Though he will be risking 800 rankings points, he won’t be overtaken at World no. 1 if he is defeated. For Andy Murray, winning the title would see him close in on Roger Federer at no. 2.

    For Murray to win the title, he can look back at a couple of things. Last year, Novak Djokovic won in a five-set final against Rafael Nadal, after defeating Murray in a five-set semi-final.

    Nadal won a five-set final over Federer in 2009 after defeating Fernando Verdasco in a five-set semi-final. Marat Safin beat Lleyton Hewitt in a four-set final in 2005 after defeating Roger Federer in the semi-finals, saving match points in the process.

    Additionally, Safin won the Australian Open title on his third attempt, after losses in 2002 and 2004. Murray is now in the same position to emulate his predecessors in both winning the title after winning a five-set semi-final, and on his third attempt in Australia.

    Murray will surely have the momentum, having won last year’s US Open and being barely forced to raise a sweat until the semi-final against Roger Federer, which went for exactly four hours.

    This will be the 18th meeting between the pair, and the third in a Grand Slam final. Novak Djokovic won their first Grand Slam meeting easily, in the final of the Australian Open two years ago, 6-4, 6-2, 6-3. Given that both players have improved their form since, don’t expect a repeat result.

    Murray was able to turn the tables on Djokovic at the US Open last year, prevailing in a classic five-set final which went for almost five hours. Their only Grand Slam meeting that was not a final was at last year’s Australian Open semi-final, when Djokovic prevailed in five sets.

    Both Djokovic and Murray have had solid starts to the season, however Djokovic hit a hurdle at the Hopman Cup when he was upset by Australia’s Bernard Tomic. Murray has had a hot start to the year, retaining his Brisbane title and now he will attempt to become the first man in Open era history to follow up a maiden Grand Slam title with a second immediately after.

    What’s also interesting is that if Victoria Azarenka prevails tonight, and Novak Djokovic tomorrow night, it would be the first Grand Slam tournament since Wimbledon 2010 in which both the World no. 1s prevailed in the same Grand Slam tournament (Rafael Nadal was the second seed at the time), and the first since the 2010 Australian Open in which both the top seeds won the same tournament.

    History will be made on Sunday night? Who will prevail? I’m predicting Novak Djokovic in five sets.

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    The Crowd Says (12)

    • January 27th 2013 @ 10:59am
      Johnno said | January 27th 2013 @ 10:59am | ! Report

      This is Novak’s year and time. This is his best chance he will ever have to win a Grand Slam, he is at his peak this year. And if he can win the French he will be pushing hard for top 3 or no 1 player ever, but if he wins the slam, no doubt the best in the last 40 years. no man in open era has won the Grand slam all 4 in same year. A few 3’s , but no Grand Slam.

      • January 27th 2013 @ 11:27am
        Frankie Hughes said | January 27th 2013 @ 11:27am | ! Report

        What are you smoking fella?

        Djokovic, according to you, will be the greatest if he wins the calendar Grand Slam? No chance in hell.

        Firstly Murray will beat him in the Australian Open final. Murray has the edge on Djokovic now.

        Secondly Nadal, whether he only plays at the French Open every year, beats Djokovic there everytime and twice on a Sunday.

        Thirdly Djokovic is at best 4th best on grass.

        So Djokovic, if he fails to win the Australian Open will be a Slamless World number 1 and fast become the new Mats Wilander.

        • January 27th 2013 @ 11:30pm
          Beardan said | January 27th 2013 @ 11:30pm | ! Report

          You’re a jibberer Frankie. If you dont believe me just check tomorrow’s newspaper to confirm it.

      • January 28th 2013 @ 1:12am
        sledgeandhammer said | January 28th 2013 @ 1:12am | ! Report

        Are you saying that if Noval win’s the slam he is the best player in the past 40 years? Better than that other fella who has won 17 Grand Slams? Crazy statement. Novak is an amazing player, but he is not playing at the level of previous seasons and got an extremely good draw for the Australian open. He even got to player Ferrer in the semi final, than an extra day off. To give a comparison Federer played Tomic, Roanic, Tsonga, and Murray. Federer has never lost to Ferrer. So while Novak is a worthy champion who had one tough match against Warwinka, I am very confident given a reasonable, on par draw, Federer will come very close to winning another major this year at either the US Open or Wimbledon. Djokovic has a great opportunity at Roland Garros this year, so it will be interesting.

      • Roar Guru

        January 28th 2013 @ 1:28am
        Cameron Kellett said | January 28th 2013 @ 1:28am | ! Report

        I don’t know if this is the same Johnno that trolls every other sport but if these aren’t forms of trolling then you really need to re-evaluate your perception on all sports.

        Joker will not catch Federer and not one of these two top players will scale the heights of what Federer achieved in his prime! Federer is not even in his prime anymore and these two have shown how hard the man is to beat and last I checked everyone keeps saying joker is in his prime.

        If anyone is a former Agassi or Sampras admirer and you’re jealous Federer superseeded them, then you all need to get with the times!

        Federer greatest of all time. I shouldn’t even have to make reference to his stats. The way he is going he will also break more records along the way. Look out Jimmy Connors!

        I hope Nadal comes back better than ever, wins more clay and with Federer still gunning these two can.hopefully play more grand slams that are actually more attractive then what was on display tonight! Boring! Wish Wawrinka, Tsonga, Fed could have replaced at least 1 of them.

        • January 28th 2013 @ 3:33am
          Johnno said | January 28th 2013 @ 3:33am | ! Report

          Kellett_1992, hardly trolling, you need to get your facts right. You seem another of those Federer types, who just have a closed mind that Federer is the best of the last 10 or 15 years, end of story. Stupid analysis kellet_1992.

          -Let’s see now. Novak is younger than Sampras. He has won every grand slam that Sampras has won, both have not won the French open, but Novak has already made the French open final, Sampras best effort was the semi-finals.

          Mcenroe made the French open final, and blew a 2-0 lead vs Lendl. Both players have made the French open final, Mcenroe and Novak, Sampras best the semi-final.

          Novak statistical had the best 2011 ever of any player on the tour in the open era, in terms of grand slam wins and ATP tour titles,.

          Grand slam finals. Nadal-federer: Nadal 6-2 . And it’s a pathetic excuse to say every player has a kryptonite. Just someone better comes along,.

          To Quote:
          Federer greatest of all time. I shouldn’t even have to make reference to his stats. The way he is going he will also break more records along the way. Look out Jimmy Connors!

          Now that is trolling,. Fed is 32, this year he ain’t getting younger, he was outlasted by Murray who is only going to get better still, has 1 or 2 years to reach full prime, Fed is on the decline.

          It’s not about just how many grand slams a players wins, it’s about head to head duels, in the best of the best.

          Agassi won all 4 titles, but Sampras was a greater player he has a better head to head duel in grand slam finals between each other.

          Like in head to head Wilander VS Lendl . Lendl has a better head to head record, but when it truly counts.
          Wilander leads 3-2 in grand slam finals, won the OZ open on grass , Lendl never won a major on grass, Wilander won on all surfaces (clay,hardcore,grass), and beat him in Davis cup when Davis cup was important.

          So you Kellet_1992 simply just read pure stats. In your mind too, Matt Hayden is a better Batsmen than Micheal Slater too. But if you look more closely when facing good fast bowling, Slater wins, as does Justin Langer over Hayden.

          So look a little deeper into things Kellet_1992, not just the simple general statistics, look intuit he stats that actually matter, it requires more work but you’ll be far more valid in your arguments if you do.

          And Funny Kellett_1992 Nadal’s victories over Fed at wimbeldon and the OZ open, Fed’s best surfaces, when in Fed’s prime too.
          Oh and clay don’t get me started, on Nadal’s best surface it’s no contest, Fed has never beaten Nadal at the French open, period.
          So all in all Nadal has all the statistical advantages, when it counts kellet_1992. Excuses ,Excuses, and you bemoan Agassi and Sampras lovers, hypocrite Kellet_1992 , now who’s’ trolling.

          • Roar Guru

            January 28th 2013 @ 11:56am
            Cameron Kellett said | January 28th 2013 @ 11:56am | ! Report

            Johnno,

            The last thing ever on my mind is trolling.
            I do not troll. You choose your statistics and I will choose mine, ok?

            Jimmy Connors played for 24 years! Federer turned pro 1998, only 15 years.

            Desert will most likely not play this long but is already drawing near, not that I think he actually cares if he takes the record or not.

            If this is the same Johnno that had a discussion with me the other day on the Feferer article then you’ll know my thoughts. Thus the reason why I questioned if this was the same Johnno who comments on everything.

            some very insightful views, opinions and analysis but you specifically choose stats and if I proceed to do the same then before we know it we have nothing left to compare. I do not argue the achievements of any players past past, present or in the near future. I argue the overall statistical view in which Federer statistically is better, than most players, albeit with a few players with a better record in terms of the 12-2 record Nadal has over Fed which completely completely changes the record shared. Rafa is also 5 years younger. Joker is also entering his prime and Murray is following nicely. Federer may not win another grand slam but I highly doubt joker will catch him. I stand to be proven wrong.

            If you wish to continue a discussion further I’ll respond tonight after work then I’ll provide you the statistical analysis you seek.

            • January 29th 2013 @ 11:44am
              Frankie Hughes said | January 29th 2013 @ 11:44am | ! Report

              Djokovic and Murray have the 2013 and 2014 seasons to win the bulk of the major titles.

              After 27, defensive grinders like djokovic and murray, wear their bodies out.

    • January 27th 2013 @ 11:13am
      Lancey5times said | January 27th 2013 @ 11:13am | ! Report

      Djokovic in 4 very tight sets. Should be belter and with no disrespect to Federer this is the final most wanted to see. Murray has to serve better than Friday night. Not sure if he can

      Comment left via The Roar’s iPhone app. Download it now [http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/the-roar/id327174726?mt=8].

      • January 27th 2013 @ 11:31pm
        Beardan said | January 27th 2013 @ 11:31pm | ! Report

        good prediction. Far better than that jibber Frankie above.

      • January 28th 2013 @ 1:05am
        sledgeandhammer said | January 28th 2013 @ 1:05am | ! Report

        You are kidding right? Are you trying to tell me that most people were looking forward to watching two defensive players who both cancel out each other’s games? Doubt it. Plus Federer’s more popular than both these guys combined. Congratulation to Novak, but man, that final lacked quality and excitement particularly after the Federer/ Murray semi. Surely if Federer had got through instead of Murray the result would have been different. At least the match up would have been a lot more fun than watching two defensive players playing safe. Last year Djokovic was unplayable, half his rally shots were hitting the baseline. We just haven’t seen that this year, tonight he was winning playing risk free tennis. Unfortunately Murray wasn’t able to compete whether due to fatigue or injury, who knows.

    • January 27th 2013 @ 11:15am
      beta said | January 27th 2013 @ 11:15am | ! Report

      GO NOLE!

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