After almost 5 hours of battering tennis, it was the World Number 1, Novak Djokovic, who progressed into the final of the Australian Open, beating British Number 1 Andy Murray 6-3 3-6 6-7 (4-7) 6-1 7-5.
But in this case, the numbers simply do not tell the whole story. Going in to the match the Serbian was the clear favourite, but there were several times in the match where each player would fancy themselves to go on and secure victory.
After winning the second and then third set in a tie break, Murray led the Serbian both in terms of the score, but also mentally. Djokovic looked broken, exhausted and had the look of a man who was about to lose a tennis match. So for him to come back and win the 4th set in such a convincing fashion is testament to just why Nole is rated as the best player in the world.
On the other side of the coin though, after grinding out a tie break win in the 3rd, Murray looked tired in the 4th, chasing nothing and hitting too many errors. This is the set that the Scot will look back on in anger, and with a bit more of a push, this is the set where he could have finished, or at least worn, Djokovic even more.
And for a long time the final set looked to be going the same way. But at 5-2 down with Djokovic serving for the match, Murray pulled out what is quite possibly the best tennis he has ever shown, breaking Djokovic twice to move to 5-5, and even managing a break point which would have moved the Scot to 6-5 up and serving for the match.
But Nole is World Number 1 for a reason, and found another gear to pull away from Murray at the final hurdle. As he won the match, Djokovic collapsed to the ground, lying on his back in celebration. But after such a gruelling battle in a match that stretched almost 5 hours and finished well past midnight Melbourne time, I’m sure he’ll be spending the next few hours in the same position, recovering and rejuvinating before his final match up against the great Rafael Nadal on Sunday morning.
As for Andy Murray though, this is yet another Grand Slam where he has fallen short. Last year he made the final of the Australian Open, followed by semi final appearances at the French Open, Wimbledon and the US open, but still does not have that elusive Grand Slam victory to his name.
It’s been said before, but based on today’s performance, it really is a case of when, rather than if for the British Number 1. On his day he can beat anyone in the World, and I’m sure that a Grand Slam win isn’t too far away.
But today it was all about Djokovic. He was just too good for Murray today and will feel confident of retaining his title in the final on Sunday.
What did you think of the match? Will Andy Murray break his Grand Slam duck? And who will win the title at the Australian Open? All comments welcome…