World number one Andy Murray heads into the Australian Open at the top of the tennis tree, but still looking for his maiden title Down Under.
Murray has reached the final at Melbourne Park in five of the last seven years – and has lost all five – four of them to his friend and arch rival Novak Djokovic.
Could this finally be his year?
If it comes down to recent form then Murray stands his best chance of winning yet, despite Djokovic winning their recent match at the Qatar Open. The Scot hit a remarkable run of form toward the end of last year, winning four tournaments from October through December to climb atop the rankings before beating Djokovic at the World Tour Finals to claim his fifth straight win and eighth of a remarkable 2016.
One day it will be mine.
After just one win in 13 matches against Djokovic stretching from his Wimbledon 2013 triumph over the Serb, Murray finally managed to pull it round in 2016, winning two of their five meetings – although two of Djokovic’s three wins were the finals at Melbourne and Roland Garros. The fact that they have shared the honours in their last four meetings will give the three-time Grand Slam winner confidence.
And confidence is surely what he needs, as one of the biggest factors for Murray when facing his nemesis is undoubtedly psychological. Over the years the two have met 36 times in ATP matches and Djokovic holds a healthy advantage, leading 25 to 11.
But should they meet again in Melbourne it is the four final defeats that will no doubt play most on the mind of Murray, who is a complex character at the best of times. Murray will need to put those losses firmly behind him and concentrate on the successes of the last 12 months if he is to finally conquer his Djokovic Melbourne hoodoo.
The influence of his coach Ivan Lendl will also be key, as Murray has enjoyed spells of dominance during both of his periods working with the eight-time Grand Slam winner. It is no coincidence that Lendl’s return in June last year coincided with Murray’s upsurge in form.
Listen to Ivan.
No one, not even Murray, has more experience of being a runner up (Lendl lost 11 Grand Slam finals, Murray has lost eight), and it seems that Lendl has used the lessons he learned during his playing days and teach Murray how to win in the big games.
The final factor is the form of his opponent. Although Djokovic has started 2017 with a win in Qatar, he ended last season in a mini slump and his worst run of form for several years. After winning the French Open in June, Djokovic suffered early exits at both Wimbledon and the Olympics, and while he did still make the final of the US Open and the ATP Tour Finals, the failure to live up to his ridiculously high standards and the disappearance of the Serb’s previous aura of invincibility will give Murray hope should they meet again in the decider.
If Murray is to finally break his Melbourne duck then he will have no better opportunity than 2017.
Article source: http://www.foxsportsasia.com/news/can-murray-break-aussie-duck