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Novak Djokovic regained the Australian Open title in scintillating fashion, blitzing Andy Murray in a one sided final 6-4, 6-2, 6-3. The Serb handled the occasion, the opponent and the undoubted tensions and pressures of the final with calmness and composure before exploding with unbridled joy with a roar of delight even sending a fair chunk of his clothing into the crowd in a spontaneous display of raw emotion. It was an accomplished, even a champion, display by the Serb as he took the final by the scruff of the neck. In stark contrast, Murray, very disappointingly was outplayed, allowing his opponent to dominate and did not pose enough questions to ever trouble Djokovic. It was the Serb's second slam and perhaps appropriately for this spontaneous crowd pleaser, they both have been at was has come to be known as the â€œHappy Slamâ€.
Djokovic was remarkably level headed in the post match presentation, dedicating the trophy to his country apart from paying special tribute to his team thanking them for all the effort they put in. Murray was understandably downcast but showed good grace in congratulating Novak for an irrepressible performance. He also thanked his team and also complimented the tournament organisers and the volunteers for their superb conduct of the tourney.
It was an accomplished display by Djokovic â€“ he attacked with the forehand, defended superbly off either wing and served consistently strongly. When on top of his movement, shots and mentality, the Serb is a potent champion, and what remains to be seen is whether Novak can carry this run through the greater part of the year and finally for an extended period challenge the top duo of Federer and Nadal for Slams and the top two spots in the rankings. It does herald an exciting era of transformation with Djokovic, Murray and potentially a resurgent Del Potro breaking through the Nadal-Federer wall â€“ however, as Federer said in his presser earlier, â€œlets wait for 6 monthsâ€ before we write any obituaries.
Murray started nervously, yet seemed to be on the right track as the first set progressed. But when asked the big question at the end of the first set, just fell apart mentally and that translated into his tennis game. His mind and mood were of the same colour as the court they played on - with his game playing truant and Djokovic not giving him any breaks, Murray could not string together anything that could pose Djokovic any difficulties. A few years ago Federer made an observation about Murray being rather too defensive, for which Federer was much criticized â€“ unfortunately this display clearly validated that observation and on this evidence Murray's hopes of winning will remain bleak until he can find a way to take these big matches and opponents by the scruff of the neck and win, rather than wait for his opponent to lose.
Djokovic won the toss, chose to serve and promptly hit his first effort 6 feet long and 3 feet wide. As if to rival that, Murray then produced a backhand in the alley, betraying the nervousness both players felt. Djokovic though settling in with his less complicated game unleashed the massive forehand that worked so well against Federer in the semi-finals, to win the first 6 points of the match. Murray did not look comfortable but aided by a couple of Djokovic errors got his first service game back to deuce and after a few more deuces unleashed a brace of big serves to crucially hold and not fall behind early in the final. Djokovic looked a touch frustrated at not converting and Murray also began to move better and find the right approach to deal with The Djoker's game. This put some pressure on the Djokovic serve but the Scot missed a smash which would have given him two break points. Djokovic finally held to deuce and after a staggering 25 minutes we had 3 games done! The match settled in after that with the players still relatively cagey but comfortable in their service games, as each held to till 5-4 in 54 minutes with Murray serving to stay in the set.
At 15-15 Djokovic played a superb point, finishing with the off forehand and then the pair played the point of the match. A classic probing 38 shot rally with Murray turning a neutral situation with a pair of aggressive backhands, only to be thwarted by Djokovic's superb defense, who then in turn attacked with his forehand making his way to the net and Murray's pass clipped the net, setting up 2 set points. The Serb clinched it on the first chance off a rather tame long Murray forehand, to take the opening set in 59 minutes.
Djokovic began the second set from where he left off at the end of the first. Holding strongly with a healthy percentage of first serves, he kept the screws tight on any drops in level of play. Meanwhile, Murray got into some early difficulties on his serve with Djokovic twice setting up break point. Murray seemed to have wiped out both with massive serves but on the second Djokovic challenged and Hawkeye showed the ball to be out by the width of the fuzz on the ball. This gave Novak a look at a second serve and a poor drop shot by Murray allowed the Serb to run it down and flick it away into the open court. The early break just opened the floodgates and Djokovic playing loose and limber reached the heights he displayed in the earlier round against Federer to open up a 5-0 lead. Despite a blip when serving for the set, he eventually ran away with the set 6-2 to leave Murray with a mountain of Everest-esque proportions to climb if he was to break his Grand Slam duck. The Scot would have to do what was last done in 1999 by Andre Agassi in Paris â€“ comeback from 2 sets to love down to win in a Grand Slam final.
The third set opened up enticingly with an early break by an inspired Murray with a forehand pass to clinch it. However, he then played a disastrous game next up to gift the break back hitting a regulation smash miles wide. That was just the break that The Djoker needed as he returned to the basics of hitting consistently deep first serves and dominating the point from there. Djokovic then setup 6 break points in the 4th game each of them snuffed out by Murray. On the 7th break point, Djokovic with defensive skills that would make Nadal go green with envy, finally broke through with a backhand down the line pass at full stretch to go up 3-1. At the time it looked like that was the final straw, but there was a twist in the narrative as Djokovic came up against a released Murray who threw everything including the kitchen sink at the next game. Djokovic did not help his own cause by gifting the break back with a limp drop shot that barely made it to the net. A Huge hold by Murray followed as he restored parity in the third set at 3-3. That however was to be the last hurrah for the Briton as Djokovic tightened the screws, stepped on the accelerator and raced through to take the match and the title 6-3 in the third.
 Novak Djokovic (SRB) d  Andy Murray (GBR) 6-4, 6-2, 6-3
Photograph Copyright: Australian Open
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