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Djokovic, Murray on opposite streaks into Aussie Open final

/ 03:04 PM January 31, 2016
Andy Murray, right, of Britain, shakes hands with his opponent, Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, after defeating him in the men's final at the Rogers Cup tennis tournament in Montreal on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015. AP/The Canadian Press

Andy Murray, right, of Britain, shakes hands with his opponent, Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, after defeating him in the men’s final at the Rogers Cup tennis tournament in Montreal on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015. AP/The Canadian Press

MELBOURNE, Australia — Based on records alone, Novak Djokovic would appear to be the favorite in the Australian Open final against Andy Murray. After all, Djokovic is a perfect 5-0 in his previous finals at Melbourne Park, while Murray is 0-4, with three losses to the top-ranked Serbian player.

Djokovic knows the dangers of being overconfident, however, as he chases his 11th overall Grand Slam title, which would put him in a tie with Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver for fifth on the all-time list. He would also equal Roy Emerson’s record of six Australian Open titles.

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“When I hear predictions that are positive, of course, it does flatter and add to your confidence,” he said Saturday at Melbourne Park.

“But you can’t get carried away with that, if you know what I mean. It also imposes a great obstacle mentally in a way because you need to deliver. You need to be able to win and try to make this prediction true.”

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Djokovic has been in the situation before. He was also favored to win his first French Open title last year, riding a 28-match winning streak into the final as the top seed, but was upset by eighth-seeded Stan Wawrinka, who had only beaten him three times in 20 previous matches.

Djokovic is also facing an opponent in Murray who is determined to break through after coming up short so many times at the Australian Open and add a third Grand Slam trophy to his 2012 U.S. Open and 2013 Wimbledon titles. This will be Murray’s ninth major final, but he only has those two trophies to show for it.

“(I’ve) been in the situation before where (I) haven’t won specific tournaments, like Roland Garros, for example, against players like (Rafael) Nadal who were dominating there,” Djokovic said.

He added, “I understand the kind of desire and will to win that is present. But, you know, of course, I don’t underestimate him. No question about it.”

Murray isn’t dwelling on the past, either. To him, he has every opportunity to beat Djokovic on Sunday if he’s playing his best tennis.

“I don’t think many people are expecting me to win,” he said after his semifinal win over Milos Raonic on Friday night. “But the previous disappointments, it’s one tennis match. Doesn’t matter what’s happened in the past, really.”

Both players have moved through the draw without too much difficulty, though each has survived one grueling five-setter — Djokovic against Gilles Simon in the fourth round, and Murray against Raonic in the semifinals.

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Djokovic would appear to benefit from having an extra day off after his semifinal win over Roger Federer on Thursday, while Murray had to endure a punishing, four-hour match against Raonic that didn’t end until nearly midnight on Friday night.

But Murray was back on court at Melbourne Park less than 18 hours later to practice with coach Amelie Mauresmo, not appearing physically hampered by the lengthy match.

Murray downplayed any concerns immediately after his win over Raonic, pointing to Djokovic’s own comeback after a draining, five-setter against him in the semifinals of the Australian Open in 2012. Two days later, he beat Nadal for the title in another epic match.

“Obviously you play the five sets it isn’t ideal, but Novak also won here the time we played five hours and then played a six-hour final,” he said. “So it’s doable.”

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TAGS: Andy Murray, Australian Open, final, Grand Slam, Melbourne Park, Novak Djokovic, Tennis
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