UK & World News

  • 27 January 2013, 9:21

Murray Takes On Djokovic In Oz Open Final

British number one Andy Murray is taking on rival Novak Djokovic in what could be a blistering, punishing Australian Open final in Melbourne.

Murray, mentally and physically stronger than ever, wants to continue his winning streak, while Djokovic is determined to clinch his fourth Australian Open, and his third in a row. 

It will be Murray's second Grand Slam title if he wins, but Djokovic has the upper hand in their head-to-head record - with the Serbian having won 10 of their 17 meetings, including the final of the competition in 2011.

Covering the Open in Melbourne tennis correspondent for the Daily Express, and a Scotsman, Bob McKenzie told Sky News: "It's a huge match, they've known each other since they were 11.

"Djokovic remembers him as a pale-faced Scottish boy with big hair. They've developed the same shots, great forehands, big backhands.

"Djokovic stepped ahead in 2008 when he won here, but Murray has now caught up. It will be a straight shot here, a straight shot there. Whoever serves best will definitely have an advantage."

Retired champions Andre Agassi, Mats Wilander and John Newcombe - who won a dozen titles between them in Melbourne - are predicting another centre court war between the supreme athletes.

Wilander says he can't believe how the game has evolved and believes it's no coincidence Djokovic and Murray are the last two men standing, just as they were at last year's US Open.

On that occasion, Murray finally clinched his maiden grand slam title - after four finals defeats - with a four-hour, 54-minute five-set triumph over Djokovic.

It was one minute shy of the longest men's decider of all time in New York.

"Looking at both of them, it seems like they have made a phone call to one another saying: 'How hard are you working because I'm doing this'," Wilander said.

"'Oh, okay, that's too bad because I am doing this and then I'm going to do this.

"This is unbelievably healthy for the rest of the guys on tour trying to keep up."

Agassi - who said he could only marvel at the staying power of the sport's top dogs - along with fellow former champions Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Roy Emerson and Murray's five-set semi-final victim Roger Federer, are all tipping Djokovic to win the final and claim his sixth grand slam crown.

Newcombe, though, is backing Murray "in a long bruising battle".

"He was fit last year, but he just seems to have strengthened his legs up.

"I called his (quarter-final) against (Jeremy) Chardy and I was down on courtside doing TV commentary and you could just see from there the strength of the legs.

"So I'm sticking with Murray in four or five very tight sets."

In the summer sunshine Murray fans gathered early for the showdown.

Scot Gary Johnston, who lives near Melbourne, has been cheering his fellow countryman on all the way.

"The mob will all be here with their kilts and painted faces, cheering him on," he told Sky News.

"It could go either way, it's 50/50. I hope to see some Scottish charm and personality. Instead of glaring at his mum when things go wrong I want to see him blow kisses to his gorgeous girlfriend. He's been so tense he should loosen up and enjoy it, he has achieved so much."

Meanwhile loyal fans in his home town of Dunblane, Perthshire, were expected to gather together to show their support, with Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond saying the whole country would be cheering Murray on.

Mr Salmond said: "In Australia the Melbourne Cup is the horse race that stops the nation, but Murray's bid for a title in Melbourne will be the match that brings Scotland to a standstill.

"After Andy's victory over Novak Djokovic to take the US Open title, there is no doubt this will be a clash of the tennis titans.

"I know I won't be the only one glued to the television as the whole of Scotland cheers Andy on for back to back grand slam success."

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