Sunday, January 31, 2016, 7.30pm AEDT
CAN anyone beat the world number one?
That is the question the tennis world is asking after Novak Djokovic blasted Swiss master Roger Federer off the Rod Laver Arena court on Thursday night.
The man charged with trying to take down The Djoker in Sunday night’s Australian Open final is the number two seed Andy Murray ($4.60 with Sportsbet.com.au), of the top two ranking tennis players in the world.
And it is a rematch of last year’s Australian Open final, which Djokovic won in four sets, 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, 6-0.
The pair has met each other 30 times, with Djokovic holding a clear advantage, 21-9.
They have played each other five times in grand slam finals, with Djokovic winning four of those, including all three at the Australian Open.
In other words, Murray is up against it.
The Serbian sensation made the great Roger Federer look second rate on Thursday night, ploughing through the first two sets, 6-1, 6-2, before conceding the third, 3-6, then running away with it, 6-3 in the fourth to book his spot in the Australian Open final in his quest for a sixth title Down Under.
There is just something about seeing Federer on the other side of the net that makes Djokovic go to the next level with his tennis.
“I think against Roger, these first two sets have been probably the best two sets I’ve played against him overall I think throughout my career,” Djokovic said.
“I’ve had some moments against him in sets where I’ve played on a high level, but this was, yeah, I think a different level than from before.
“Obviously I didn’t want to allow him to come back to the match and give him an opportunity maybe to take the match to the fifth.
“I know that if I drop my level or concentration or allow myself to get distracted by anything that he would take the first opportunity, jump on me, and just take the lead of the rallies.
“That’s what he has done in the third.
“He just waits for a little drop from his opponent.
“That’s why he’s been so successful throughout his career.”
It was the 45th meeting between the two stars and Djokovic now leads the ledger for the first time in his career, 23-22.
It’s The Djoker’s 17th consecutive final, indicating just how dominant he has been.
“It’s important at the end of the day that your convictions are stronger than your doubts,” Djokovic said.
“To sustain that level and throughout the year to be actually consistent requires a lot more than just a good game.
“I’m going to try to stay here as long as possible.
“That’s from my perspective what I can influence, what I can do.
“Whether or not I’m going to be dominant in the years to come, I don’t know.
“I cannot give you an answer on that.
“I can try to do my best to try to keep playing on this level.”
Federer acknowledged Djokovic was playing better tennis than any one else on the planet and reckoned it was going to be hard for any one to knock him off.
“Novak right now is a reference for everybody,” Federer said.
“He’s the only guy that has been able to stop me as of late, and Stan (Wawrinka) when he was on fire when he was in Paris.
“Novak was very, very good. There’s no doubt about it.”
If Djokovic did it easy, Murray’s match against big serving Canadian Milos Raonic was any thing but.
The world number two found himself down two sets to love, before Raonic appeared to injury himself early in the fourth set.
The Brit has won 17 of the last 21 five set matches he has played and when it went into a fifth set, you just knew his fitness and experience was going to count for plenty.
At 2-2, it looked like this one had the hall marks of an epic, but the younger Raonic surrendered meekly in the last.
The match ended in a 4-6, 7-5, 6-7, 6-4, 6-2 result, Murray battling back from two sets to one down to take it out.
“It was tough because I played well in that set and in the tie break (in the third set) he didn’t miss one first serve,” Murray said after the match.
“It’s frustrating when you don’t have much say in the points, but i started to get a slightly better read on his serve as the match went on.”
He said Raonic “definitely slowed down in the fifth set” after his injury break in the fourth.
“It would have been nice to have played a more competitive fifth set.
“The fourth set, I thought he was still moving well.
“You just have to focus.”
He now turns his attention to Djokovic.
“A lot of things are important against the best players in the world,” he said.
“You can’t do anything poorly.
“I need to execute my game plan very well and not have any lapses in concentration.
“Novak’s played extremely well, in his last couple of matches in particular.
“He loves playing on this court and we’ve played a bunch of times here.
“Hopefully this time it can be a different result.”
Match result: Novak Djokovic wins ($1.20)
Match correct set score: Novak Djokovic wins 3-1 ($3.50)
First set winner: Novak Djokovic ($1.37)
William Hill Chase the Ace: Andy Murray
Only the foolish would bet against the world number. This bloke’s form over the past year has been absolutely ridiculous. He is about as close to unbeatable as there has been in the tennis world. We don’t really care who it is against, the only way you beat Djokovic these days is to hope he gets injured. He absolutely breezed through his match up with Federer, while Murray had to grind out a long five setter against the up and coming Canadian. Djokovic just does every thing better.
If he has a weakness, no one has found it yet. It seems he is the man who decides whether he wins or loses and there isn’t a lot the bloke at the other end can do about it. If he is on, he could win this in straight sets, but, given how much closer Murray is to his ability than any other player, he is likely to nick at least one set from the great man.
If you’re on the WilliamHill.com.au Chase the Ace bandwagon, where the bookie pays out $1 for every ace your pick produces, no matter if they win lose or draw, you’ll want to have a good hard think about Murray.
There’s no doubt that, on a perfect day, he is capable of winning this match. His odds are juicy and you know you’re going to get 10 plus aces out of him, meaning, risk versus reward, a tiny flutter gives you the chance to win big, but, even if he loses, 10-20 aces softens the blow markedly.
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