Djokovic Dominates All Challengers, Captures Fifth Australian Open Title
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
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Novak Djokovic simply could not be stopped in Melbourne, as the Serb only played one five setter all tournament, and he won that set with a bagel. Djokovic beat four time finalist Andy Murray, who continues to struggle with losing finals there, while playing some of his best tennis at the tournament, in the final in 4 sets. The match was a competitive 7-6 6-7 for the first two frames, but after that Djokovic took control, winning 12 of the final 15 games of the match for a 7-6 6-7 6-3 6-0 victory over the Scotsman.
Novak remains the world number one, and he’s the best plexicushion player on the planet at the moment, and perhaps the best of all time on the surface. He struggled with bouts of full body cramps, a jammed finger, and perhaps other ailments in his final with Murray, but after long rallies, and a physically taxing match where both skilled returners struggled to hold their serves throughout, Djokovic had Murray up against a wall, and he finished him, as winning a second set tiebreak didn’t seem to do much for Murray’s belief and left him spent emotionally and physically. Djokovic’s ailments and rollercoaster form early on, seemed to unnerve Murray, who would have to play a difficult, and taxing point, and often not even win it, then be treated to Djokovic doubled over and hitting the ball into the next the next point. His rhythm was interrupted and he simply didn’t serve well enough to win this, as he had every chance to go up 2 sets to love, if he had taken the first set tiebreak, and putting in all his effort to win the second, only to be faced with a renewed Djokovic over the final two frames, broke him. Djokovic wiped up in the fourth, and the final was simply not compelling after the first two sets, as it started to go faster, and the momentum of the match was established.
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Murray had a great tournament, but he simply had to put in a lot more effort to win points than Novak had to, the Serbian has an extra gear, and it served him well this tournament. In week 2, Djokovic didn’t drop a set against big servers Gilles Muller, and Milos Raonic, then was pushed to five, but bageled Stan Wawrinka in the 5th, as the Swiss couldn’t replicate his shocking victory last year. Raonic was disappointing to only force one tiebreak, and his return simply wasn’t good enough to trouble Djokovic, who eventually was able to read his serve. Previously, Raonic needed 5 sets to oust Spanish serve and slice maestro Feliciano Lopez, taking advantage of his opponents double faults to break. Wawrinka fought hard, and was dictating points with his backhand at times, but he mentally faded after taking the 4th set and having a break point chance early in the 5th. Simply put, Djokovic relied not only on his physical and technical talents, but also on his mental fortitude to bludgeon his opponents into submission.
Murray beat Grigor Dimitrov in 4 sets, that match was full of highlights but Dimitrov squandered break up leads in both the first and fourth set and lost the match that way, an injured Nick Kyrgios, who saved match points in a classic round of 16 encounter against Andreas Seppi that went 5 sets, in straights, and Tomas Berdych also in 4 for his week two campaign. Berdych, who totally dominated a listless Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals, Nadal only able to play even top 50 level tennis for one set, that Berdych had a bit of trouble closing out, but eventually did, winning in straights, was powerful in the first set, but Murray turned it on after feeling the Czech out and won the next two sets by a combined score of 12-3. Berdych tried to rally back in the fourth, but a late break for a mentally tougher and physically conditioned Murray was enough to win him the match. Murray was angry with Berdych throughout as there were harsh words exchanged. Berdych had also previously taken out another home Aussie, Bernard Tomic, in straight sets, as Tomic struggled with his power and dictation of the rallies.
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The Charismatic Italian duo of Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli beat French bromance Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut to win their first ever grand slam titles in the men’s doubles. The doubles final was contested between two pairs of players that both primarily have focused on singles on tour throughout their careers.
Djokovic will go into the rest of the season as a favorite on every surface besides clay at every tournament he plans to enter, while Murray is back playing top 5 tennis, Wawrinka proved he is here to stay this season, and Berdych continues to search for the answers as to what it’s going to take for him to get over the hump in slams.