Australian Open Final: Andy Murray vs Novak Djokovic Preview

Novak DjokovicAfter nearly two weeks of entertaining, competitive and top-notch tennis, the Australian Open men’s singles champion will be decided between world #6 Andy Murray and the top-ranked Novak Djokovic, who are both back in the final just two years after their epic showdown in Melbourne (3.30am ET, Sunday, Feb. 1).

Djokovic and Murray are no strangers to meeting in the finals of a Grand Slam and have done so at least once every year since 2011. In those three years, the pair have met twice in the final of the Australian, with both won by Djokovic. The 27-year-old Serbian leads the head-to-head 15-8 and that includes a 4-2 record in their Grand Slam meetings.

Murray’s Road to the Finals

Following an off-season of rest and recovery, Murray came into the Australian at 100% for the first time in a long time. And it showed. Murray easily dispatched his first three opponents, defeating Bhambri, Matosevic and Sousa, all in straight sets.

Murray’s first test came in the fourth round against the Bulgarian hotshot Grigor Dimitrov (#10). Dimitrov took a set off Murray in a tiebreak, but even then, the Olympian and major champion didn’t look in danger. He played top-notch tennis and walked away with the four-set victory.

Following Dimitrov, Murray took on yet another youngster, this time in Australia’s own, Nick Kyrgios. With the crowd against him, Murray defeated Kyrgios, who was just coming off a thrilling five-setter, in straight sets.

Then came Murray’s toughest match and a contentious one at that. Murray faced the seventh-seeded Tomas Berdych, a rival with some recent history. Murray dropped the first set to the Czech but then quickly rebounded with a 6-0 second. He carried the momentum to a four-set victory, returning him to the Australian Open Final for the first time since 2012.

Djokovic’s Road to the Finals

A four-time champion Down Under, there was no doubt that the world number one would return to the Australian Open Finals in 2015, after missing the championship match there the year prior, for the first time since 2010.

Djokovic entered the tournament playing great tennis and only continued that through his first three matches. Like Murray, Djokovic made quick work of his early matches, defeating Bedene, Kuznetsov and Verdasco (#31) in straight sets.

In the fourth round, Djokovic’s dominance continued as he defeated Muller and then Raonic (#8) in straight sets as well. It wasn’t until the semi-final against the defending champion and world number-four Stan Wawrinka, that Djokovic faced his first major challenge of 2015.

Wawrinka matched Djokovic backhand for backhand, point for point and set for set until the fifth, which was won by the Serbian by a score of 6-0. Djokovic prevailed in part because of his solid game, but also because of something he worked on improving in the offseason, his serve. Djokovic was winning close to 60% of his second serve points and was returning his opponent’s serve with even greater accuracy.

As a result, Djokovic booked a trip back to the Australian Open Finals where he is a perfect 4-0.

Andy Murray vs Novak Djokovic Betting Picks

Going back over both Murray and Djokovic’s earlier matches, one thing is certain. Both of these major-winners are playing at or near the top of their game. Both have also been challenged to prove that and did so with poise and finesse.

Against Wawrinka, Djokovic dropped his first sets and had more unforced errors than winners for the first time in the entire tournament. He did so, in some cases, after leading, including the second set which began with Djokovic having a 3-0, 30-love lead. He lost that game and the set. But resilience prevailed as it always has with Djokovic. Up against the wall and with Wawrinka playing incredible tennis, Djokovic still found it in himself to be the better player and get the victory.

Murray could find himself in the same situation, no matter how well he plays.

The pair have a history of bringing out the best in the other, especially since Murray’s rise to the level of the Big Three. But as I mentioned when previewing the last match and as it proved true, no matter how well his opponent plays, Djokovic is the better player. He has more weapons in his arsenal and with his serve an added bonus, even Murray at his highest level will have some difficulties.

Plus, I’m a believer in trends. There is a reason Djokovic is undefeated in Australian Open Finals and a reason why he continues to be the top player in the world.

So once again, take Djokovic to win a fifth Australian Open, which would be more than any player in history. The two have rarely played a five-setter but this should be the year. Murray has an extra day of rest and Djokovic just played a grueling a match.

  • On the moneyline Djokovic is the sportsbooks’ strong favourite at -230 betting odds to Murray’s +190. But USA residents should bet on Djokovic to win by a set score of 3-2 @ 5/1 (+500) with Bovada Sportsbook. It is currently +444 with 5Dimes and BetOnline has not yet put up this prop at the time of writing. Non-Americans should take the same 5/1 odds about this Australian Open Final outcome with Bet365.
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