TWD Sunday Sports Thread For 1/27/13: Down Under Wonder (2nd Version)


Game, Set, Match: Djokovic defeats Murray 6-7 (2), 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-2

It was the calm that carried Novak Djokovic to his 4th Australian Open title and 3rd straight championship in Melbourne, while it was the body that failed Andy Murray in the end. 

The Serbian showed how he is the best in the world again, while the extra day of rest and much easier semifinal played a significant role in Murray's physical ailments revealing themselves as the match began slipping away from him. 

Djokovic did so well to avoid going down a crucial early break in the 2nd set, down 0-40 and seemingly letting the frustration from a poor 1st set tiebreaker grip him. That hold down three break points was the turning point in this match and one of three defining moments, as Djokovic began to settle down on the forehand side. 

If Murray gets the break there, with his forehand at its optimum level and his serve firmly locked in, Djokovic would have likely had to comeback from two sets down. Instead, the Scot's missed backhand by inches proved to be one of the shots he will be thinking about in the "what if" column. 

Those little margins between victory and defeat in these Big 4 matches were then magnified again in the 2nd set tiebreak. With Djokovic getting his own forehand back in order, he stayed with Murray and got help from a bird's feather in the 2nd set tiebreak. That sudden, minute distraction from the sky lead to Murray costly double faulting and giving Djokovic the mini-break he needed to propel and win the 2nd set. 

Murray had lost the clear advantage, deserving of a two sets lead and beginning to feel the elements of pain from his semifinal win over Roger Federer. In the last few years in Melbourne, the extra day of rest for one of the men's finalists over the other turned out not to be a distinct advantage. But it certainly was the situation this time, as both men's trajectory in the match went in different ways in the 8th game of the third set. 

Djokovic finally found his way through a Murray service game since the 1st set to go up 0-40. A valiant effort to comeback by Murray ended three points later, as he placed his shot into the net, and the match's momentum would stay with Djokovic until the very end. 

Murray's much harder semifinal and less day of rest proved to be vital, as his limp became noticeable throughout the final set. But it was Djokovic's ability to stay strong and focused on his service games, combined with his ability to settle down on his forehand side that was the reason for his win. 

It was fitting that Andre Agassi was at Rod Laver Arena to witness Djokovic equaling his total of Australian Open titles. The old king of Melbourne had to be front and center for the new king of Melbourne. 

(That's it for The Whole Delivery's live coverage of the 2013 Australian Open. A full recap of the tournament will be soon in the pipeline. Thanks for reading and Peace for now.)

The Original Thread is down below:
Both Players with Kevin Spacey Before the Match 

It's Act 18 of a professional friendly rivalry that started when they were teenagers. And now, with Rafael Nadal out and Roger Federer dispatched, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray's battle become the highlighted rivalry on the men's side to kick off 2013. 

With Murray's confidence growing in Grand Slam best of five matches, the mental advantage that Djokovic used to have on Murray up to 5 months ago has continued to close. Always a tight nip-and-tuck rivalry, the world #1 had the supreme edge when it came between the ears. Now, that has since diminished, as their matchups are now legitimate pick ups decided only by who is the superior player on the day. 

And that result is decided by only the margins. Dramatic turnaround points for vital momentum will be vital again for both of these guys. 

Keys to the Match

For Murray 
1) Keep on establishing the forehand as the biggest shot
2) You have more versatility, keep on using it 
3) Protect the 2nd serve
4) Close out the points
5) This is your time to take over. 

For Djokovic
1) Mix up the serve and get the full extension 
2) Be aggressive and don't be afraid of the net 
3) Hit to the middle of the court more to set up the angles before he does 
4) Test his fitness all the way since you got the extra day of rest
5) You are still the mentally stronger player. Have the best defense

Predictions: I picked Djokovic before the start of the tournament, and though Murray has made this an even match with his continued physical presence, Djokovic just shows still that crisp form to win this contest in, of course, 5 dramatic sets. 

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