1-NOVAK DJOKOVIC VS. 4-ANDY MURRAY
Once again they face off and this time Murray is a bit nervous off court as he and his soon-to-be wife, Kim Sears, will be wed next Saturday and the last thing he wants his friends to pat his backside and say ‘Andy I am sorry but you will best Djokovic someday I’m sure.’
Instead, if he upends Novak on Sunday at Miami, people in Scotland will come up to him, shake him with two hands, say he is sounding great with a large smile, go grab a thick beer, and raise a glass or two. They will merely say ‘Cheers Andy!’ while they wink-wink, with everyone thinking that Murray has returned by winning a major tournaments again.
At this point, if Murray wins, it will be huge for Andy, because he hasn’t beaten Djokovic since 2013 Wimbledon and that has been a long time. The Serbian has beaten him six times in a row, wasting him at Indian Wells in the semifinals. During the first three sets against Djokovic in the final of Australian Open, Murray had it right there, but then in the fourth set, the world No. 1 turned on the gas while the world No. 4 looked like he was asleep and was blasted 7-6(5) 6-7(4) 6-3 6-0. Murray simply didn’t believe in himself.
Fortunately, Murray has played Miami extremely well, so much so because he owns a house there and works out during November and December. He practices in Key Biscayne regularly and he knows how hot the weather is, whether it’s stick and muggy or have it just right. He has put together some tremendous tournaments, but here is the problem: Djokovic has been better overall.
In 2007, when the now 27-year-old Murray was an up-and-comer at Miami, he reached the semifinal, but he faced the now 27-year-old Djokovic in the semis and the new Aussie Open champ smoked Andy 6-1 6-0.
However, in 2009, Murray played as well as he ever did, playing Djokovic and out thought him 6-2 7-5 to win the final. But in 2012, the two faced off in the final again and this time Novak out punched Murray 6-1 7-6. In 2013, Murray won the Miami title, blasting David Ferrer in the final.
But last year when he and Djokovic went at it, the Serbian won 7-5 6-3 over Andy. Clearly, Murray loves the area, but Djokovic has been better on hard courts, at Miami and elsewhere, owning a 17-8 edge over Murray overall.
Murray and Djokovic have known each other since they were young teenagers so they know each other’s ups and downs. There are no tricks to be had. Yes, they can change tactics here and there, but it’s all about who plays better and who does not. Djokovic owns eight Grand Slams, while Murray owns two. That is enough to say that the Serbian has be better than Andy, but Murray can eventually catch him, if, and I mean if, he stops being conservative and let it all hang out.
After he fell to Murray in the semifinals, Tomas Berdych said that Andy played more aggressively that he usually does so think if exactly what Andy has to against Djokovic. He knows that he can go stroke-to-stroke with his backhand, but he has to go often and early, not waiting to see if Novak will try and crush a winner immediately. The same goes here with his forehand: Murray cannot hit his forehand against Djokovic, but he can move inside the box early and try to get him way out wide. Obviously, he must move his first serves around and, with his second servers, he cannot push the ball in, which has been his weakness for years. Perhaps most importantly, Murray has to come into the net more often, because he has beautiful hands and it’s to his advantage to shorten points.
Djokovic has been extremely solid since the start of the year. He is so confident that even when he isn’t playing great he’d figure it out and race away. Murray looked pretty good this year overall and he certainly has looked better than last year, when he was coming back due to a serious back injury. Eventually, Murray will get there and beat Djokovic somewhere, someday, but until he actually stuns Novak, I can’t see Andy full of bravo.
Djokovic will win in three sets.
Nonetheless, regardless of his win or loss, Murray will go back home to Scotland and have a great time next Saturday for his wedding. It’s not always about the tennis, it’s about pride. Regardless, he will be back. ‘Cheers Andy and Kim’