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Australian Open preview: Murray in great shape for Djokovik challenge

by Aidan Elder | January 26, 2013

murray-cakewalk_hdr

By Aidan Elder | Australian Open

The sailing couldn’t have been more plain. Wonderfully and economically plain. If Andy, Judy and Ivan Lendl sat down at some point prior to the Australian Open and plotted an ideal path to glory, it surely wouldn’t have looked as carefree as this.

It’s been a cakewalk for Andy Murray (25) and circumstances are stacking up in his favour as he goes for back-to-back Grand Slam titles with his energy largely preserved.

Sure, Roger Federe rattled his cage a little in Friday’s 3-2 semi-final win but otherwise he’s in great shape.

Not only has Andy reached the final – dropping just two sets which went to tie-breakers – along the way but his main rival has had to scrap shining tooth and manicured nail for his place in the final.

In the five matches up to the semi-finals in this year’s Australian Open tournament:

  • Murray has spent 90 minutes less on court than World No. 1 Djokovic but he’s been tested less than the Serbian. 

After Djokovic’s facile win over David Ferrer, Murray has now spent nearly six hours less on court, albeit with his semi-final to come. It’s nothing decisive, but if you’re engaging in some Al Pacino style ‘inches gathering’, it all adds to Murray’s cause.

Andy’s progress has been serene and littered with slightly less swearing than we’re used to. He has played 185 games in Melbourne this tournament winning more than 60 per cent of them.  

Murray’s dominance may not be obvious

Murray has only dropped two sets – both in the semi final – but his dominance may not be as obvious. Of the 20 sets he has played, he has won 13 of them by a margin of three of more games (65 per cent). Djokovic has dropped a hardly catastrophic three sets, but he has been pushed harder and more frequently. Of the 21 sets he has played, the top seed has won 48 per cent of them by a margin of three games or more.

By his own admission, Murray hasn’t been in peak form, but if this is now his standard when he’s not quite in the groove, he’s not doing much wrong. “You have to trust yourself that when you are tested, you’re going to play better tennis,” said Murray. “I’ve done a good job so far in this tournament. I can’t be disappointed with where my game’s at.”

There was some speculation that getting the major monkey off his back would relax him and bring about even higher standards. It’s far from conclusive and flawless, but the numbers suggests things are adding up in Andy’s favour, Another major win could be the start of building a formidable empire.

 

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