2014/07/30

Djokovic Defends his Australian Open Title in Test of Endurance

Novak Djokovic at Desert Smash

By Jaclyn Stacey

(January 27, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia - Novak Djokovic created history on Sunday when he became the first male tennis player in the Open Era to win three consecutive Australian Open titles, overcoming a defiant Andy Murray 6-7(2), 7-6(3), 6-3, 6-2 in three hours and 40 minutes.

 

“Every tournament, especially the major tournaments, is very special. So every win, of course also adding to that the history part, you know, winning it three in a row, it’s incredible.” Djokovic said of the record. “It’s very thrilling. I’m full of joy right now.”

 

The Australian Open is Djokovic’s most successful Grand Slam, with four out of his six major titles coming at Melbourne Park. He joins Agassi and Federer as the only players in the Open Era to have won four Australian Open Championships. Agassi was on hand for the trophy ceremony and presented Djokovic with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup.

 

“He had so much success. He won everything: Gold medal, Olympic Games, Grand Slam, everything. Also he made a huge impact on the sport by changing the style. He was I think one of the first baseline groundstroke players on the tour. Most of the players before him were playing serve and volley. That’s where the game started to change a bit and you could have more players winning the events from the baseline.” Djokovic said of Agassi’s footprint on tennis. “So it was obviously a big pleasure and honor for me to receive the trophy from him.”

 

The gladiatorial battle was a trial of stamina as the two baseline defenders exchanged extended rallies throughout the duration of the match. Set one and two lasted over an hour each and with neither player willing to step up and be the aggressor, the first two sets went to a tie-break without a single break of serve occurring. A break didn’t come until the 32nd game in the match when Djokovic managed to break Murray and close out the third set without requiring a tie-break. Djokovic seemed to gain a mental edge after winning the third set and stepped up to play more aggressively, pouncing on any Murray second serves. He hit faster and deeper and applied more pressure in the fourth set to close out the match.

 

Murray had declared prior to the final that he was ready to feel the pain against Djokovic, knowing that if that was the case he knew it’d be a great match. He certainly experienced pain during the encounter, though not how he would have expected, requiring medical attention for blisters on his right foot at the end of the second set.

 

It was the third time that Murray and Djokovic had met at the Australian Open, the first in the 2011 final where Djokovic obliterated Murray 6-4 6-2 6-3 and last year in a tough five set semifinal in which Djokovic prevailed and went on to win the title. By midway into the second set on Sunday, Murray had already surpassed the total number of games he won in the 2011 demolition.

 

“I mean, the last few months have been the best tennis of my life. I mean, I made Wimbledon final, won the Olympics, won the US Open. You know, I was close here as well. It was close,” Murray said of the defeat. “So, you know, I have to try and look at the positives of the last few months, and I think I’m going the right direction. This is the first time I’ve beaten Roger in a slam over five sets.”

 

Murray won an intense first set in the tie-break 7-6(2) in 68 minutes. It was a test of endurance as the two exchanged lengthy rallies peppered with incredible shotmaking. Djokovic had five break point opportunities during the set but a steely Murray stepped up to save all of them. Djokovic served incredibly well in the set, at one stage with a first serve percentage of 80%, and Murray didn’t get one look at a break point opportunity throughout the set.

 

He did in the second set however, Djokovic going down 0-40 in his first service game but saving all break point opportunities with some gritty tennis. The same physical battle endured throughout the set and neither player faced another opportunity to break. After 24 held games in the match the second set ended in another tie-break which Djokovic closed out 7-6(3).

 

The third set began in the same fashion as the first two until finally after 31 consecutive held service games Djokovic won the first break in the match to lead 5-3. He then held to love with some superb first serves to close out the third set 6-3 and lead the match two sets to one.

 

At 1-1 in the fourth set Djokovic again had break point opportunities thanks to a sloppy game from Murray in which he served his fourth double fault for the match. Prior to the final, Murray had served just two double faults for the entire tournament. After a 26 point rally Murray hit a backhand unforced error to gift the Serbian the lead 2-1. Djokovic then consolidated the break before claiming another advantage in the next game as Murray served his fifth double fault down break point. From there Djokovic was full of momentum and confidently served out the match, Murray netting a backhand on Championship point.

 

“I knew that it’s going to be physically very demanding, a lot of long rallies, so I needed to hang in there. I’ve done that. There was a few turning points in the match. Maybe one of them was the second game in the second set when I was Love-40 against the breeze. He missed a few shots. I managed have that crucial hold.” Djokovic said of the difficulty level in the match. “After that I felt just mentally a little bit lighter and more confident on the court than I’ve done in the first hour or so.”

 

“Yeah, I tried to be more aggressive. So I went for my shots, especially in the third and fourth; came to the net quite often.  I was quite successful in that percentage, so it worked well for me. I needed to be the one who dictates the play, and I’m really glad that I’ve played my best.”

 

Djokovic was asked what motivated him to fight for more Grand Slam titles, particularly following some tough losses against the top four in the final three majors of 2012.

 

“What more motivation you need than from this trophy?” He asked. “Just seeing it and reading the names of the winners in last 50, 100 years, it’s incredible. To be also mentioned in the history aspect, you know, and winning three in a row, it’s a huge achievement. So I’m always motivated in every match that I play on. But of course Grand Slam finals are always bringing something new, something special to every player, and that’s where you want to perform your best.”

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In His Own Words – Novak Djokovic’s Final 2013 Australian Open News Conference

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Novak Djokovic 27-01-13

Sunday, 27 January, 2013

Q.  Last year you were in here about 4:00 in the morning.  This is a good time to finish, I guess.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Relatively early (smiling).

 

Q.  How hard was that match for you tonight?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  It’s hard.  I mean, when you play one of your biggest rivals and somebody that is in the top form in finals of a Grand Slam, there is a lot to play for.
I think it went 2 hours, 20 minutes, the first two sets.  I think that says enough about the intensity of the match.
I kind of expected that.  I knew that it’s going to be physically very demanding, a lot of long rallies, so I needed to hang in there.  I’ve done that.  There was a few turning points in the match.  Maybe one of them was the second game in the second set when I was Love 40 against the breeze.  He missed a few shots.  I managed have that crucial hold.
After that I felt just mentally a little bit lighter and more confident on the court than I’ve done in the first hour or so.

 

Q.  Anything noticeably different you did from the US Open final to here?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  All our matches in last three years have been decided in a very few points, so it’s really hard to say if I’ve done anything different.
Yeah, I tried to be more aggressive.  So I went for my shots, especially in the third and fourth; came to the net quite often.  I was quite successful in that percentage, so it worked well for me.
I needed to be the one who dictates the play, and I’m really glad that I’ve played my best.

 

Q.  How does this compare with the others you’ve won, the feeling?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Every tournament, especially the major tournaments, is very special.  So every win, of course also adding to that the history part, you know, winning it three in a row, it’s incredible.  It’s very thrilling.  I’m full of joy right now.
It’s going to give me a lot of confidence for the rest of the season, that’s for sure.

 

Q.  You and Andy are two of the best returners in the game, but it took over 30 games in this match before anybody broke.  Why do you think that was tonight?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, we both served well, I think.  We were holding our service games quite comfortably.
I was serving better against him today in the first two sets than I’ve done in any of the match in the last two years.  But I knew that he’s incredible returner and has that ability to make you play always an extra shot.
To be able to get a lot of free points on the serve was definitely a positive.

 

Q.  Andre Agassi always played very well in this tournament.  You got the trophy from him tonight.  Is there something similar in your attitudes, styles, that means you tend to start the season in such terrific form?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Maybe the style of clothing that we had.  He had many colors and I love colors, so on that regard maybe there is some similarities.
But, no, also he’s I think one of the players that changed the game   not just the game itself, but also the way the people see it.  He’s a legend of the sport, of course.  He had so much success.  He won everything:  Gold medal, Olympic Games, Grand Slam, everything.
Also he made a huge impact on the sport by changing the style.  He was I think one of the first baseline groundstroke players on the tour.  Most of the players before him were playing serve and volley.  That’s where the game started to change a bit and you could have more players winning the events from the baseline.
So it was obviously a big pleasure and honor for me to receive the trophy from him.

 

Q.  Another major and another semifinal with three of the top four and two of the top four winning.  Do you think the gap is closing at all or is the gap growing with the rest of the field?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I think that’s a question that can be always asked.  I don’t find a really great answer for that.  As I was saying before, it is logical in a way to expect the top four players to be the main contenders to win the trophy.
But I never want to underestimate the rest of the field, the rest of the players, especially the ones in the top 10, the top 15.  I was a few points away from losing the match against Wawrinka in the fourth round here.  That says enough about the competitiveness of the sport and the quality that other players bring.  And he’s around 15 in the world.
So it is possible.  It is possible for them to make a breakthrough, to win against the top guys in major events.  Tsonga, Del Potro, Ferrer, these guys have done it in the past.  Berdych.  It’s always a possibility.
But I guess the top four are the most dominant ones in last five years.

 

Q.  What are your goals for the rest of the season?  Is the French Open a priority for you now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Priority for me now is to enjoy this victory.  In life, you know, you don’t get many of the opportunities to win Grand Slams.  As a tennis player, that’s a pinnacle of the ambitions and of the success.
So I try to enjoy it for few days with the people I love the most, family, friends, and team.
And then after I turn to the rest of the season.  It’s Davis Cup already coming up, indoors, clay courts, next weekend, so that’s going to be a lot of fun (smiling).
And then after that, obviously    there is still four or five months till the French Open.  Of course, I want to go all the way in French Open.  I went to the finals last year and had a great match against Rafa, but he’s always the favorite on that surface and he’s the ultimate player to beat on clay.
But I think if I continue on playing well, stay healthy, I can have a chance.

 

Q.  You had tough losses to Rafa and Roger and Andy in the last three Grand Slams coming in here.  Going into today, any special motivation saying that you wanted another Grand Slam title?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  What more motivation you need than from this trophy?  Just seeing it and reading the names of the winners in last 50, 100 years, it’s incredible.  To be also mentioned in the history aspect, you know, and winning three in a row, it’s a huge achievement.
So I’m always motivated in every match that I play on.  But of course Grand Slam finals are always bringing something new, something special to every player, and that’s where you want to perform your best.

 

Q.  This final and last year were incredibly physical.  Do you get a sense it’s taking stuff out of you or you’re just taking it in your stride?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, as somebody that has experiences playing on the big stage in Grand Slam finals, especially against the top guys, I expected that to happen.
I tried to use that necessary experience in the past to implement that in my game, in my mental approach and mindset before this final.
I didn’t expect an easy match.  You never get the Grand Slam trophy in an easy way.  You have to earn it.  I’m very glad that I’m sitting next to it now.

 

Q.  You spoke about Andre.  Are you changing the game, too?  If yes, in what aspect do you think?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I leave you guys to judge about changing the game or not.  I’m just trying to play this game with 100% of devotion, love, passion, and fun also.  I mean, 25 years old and I won six Grand Slams and have a lot of trophies.
It’s amazing.  You know, I’m just trying to embrace this moment and enjoy it as much as I can and see where tomorrow brings me.

 

Q.  Last year you played the second semifinal, had less rest; this year the opposite.  How different is it going into these two finals because of that?  Do you think they should change anything to make it more even?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Only thing I can say regarding this tournament is it’s a fantastic success.  I mean, the things and the work they have done for the players is tremendous.  They keep on improving and striving to be the best out of all the Grand Slams, all the tournaments.  I think they’re right at the top.
So all these guys who are part of the organization on the top with Craig Tiley, the tournament director, are making sure the players feel comfortable.  I’m sure you have heard and seen many of the positive compliments from the players, men’s and women’s, about this tournament.  Others should follow this example.
I enjoy it.  I enjoy it as much as I can.
Changes in the game are always questionable.  It depends from what perspective you’re looking at it.  But it is the way it is.  For everybody it’s the same.  I’m just glad to be a winner once more.

 

Q.  Do you switch from one surface to another surface?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  That’s why I said it’s going to be a lot of fun next weekend to see how I can adjust to clay court in indoor conditions, playing away Davis Cup, which is always tricky.
But, look, you know, right now my thoughts are going in this trophy, enjoying as much as I can.  Hopefully I’m going to have time to recover and get ready for that tie.

 

Q.  Do you think you’re the funnest guy in players nowadays?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Do you think (smiling)?

 

Q.  I also heard from some ballkids, they said you are always humor.  I notice you said hello to Jie Zheng in Chinese in the press conference, too.  I want to know about your philosophy in life for humor?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  It’s tough to find a rational answer for that question.
But the only thing I can say is I try to enjoy what I do and every moment of the life that I have is a blessing.
There is so many athletes, professional tennis players around the world and it’s such a global sport, they want to be the best in what they do.  They want to succeed.  Many of them, they don’t succeed in the end.  I’m fortunate to have this opportunity and to succeed.
I mean, what else can you do but to be happy and try to, you know, bring that joy to the other people around, especially in the tournaments.  Everybody has bad days.  I’m not always funny or laughing.  It’s normal.  But generally I’m aware of the fact that it’s an incredible trip for me, you know, being a professional tennis player.
I don’t know if you’re informed or not.  I got the permission to leave tonight actually very early in the morning, not tomorrow.  So I’m very sorry, and I apologize for not talking to you furthermore tomorrow.
The main reason for that is because I want to get to Europe as quick as possible so I can be ready for the Davis Cup tie.  I hope I find your understanding for that.
In the end, there is a little tradition that we try to initiate in World Tour Finals in London, the end of the year, the last press conference, gave chocolate to all the people who were in the press.
I want to start the year with the same thing, if you allow me.
Let’s keep it sweet

Transcript courtesy of ASAPSports and Tennis Australia

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In His Own Words – Andy Murray’s Final 2013 Australian Open News Conference

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Andy Murray 27-01-13

Sunday, 27 January, 2013

Q.  Did you feel if you were going to win it, you were going to have to win it quicker than you won the US Open given the physical demands of your semifinal?
ANDY MURRAY:  No, I mean, you never know.  I think it was extremely    the third set was very competitive.  You know, a lot of the games that I lost in the fourth set as well were pretty tight games.
I was getting like quite a few Love 15s, 15 30s, Love 30s, and, yeah, I couldn’t quite capitalize on my chances on his serve.  That was a disappointing part.
But, I mean, obviously when you go two sets to one down, you know you really need to get off to a good start the beginning of the fourth set because, you know, most of the guys at the top of the game, when they get a lead and momentum, it’s tough to stop them.
You know, like in the second set with me, I played a good second set.  I created quite a few chances; didn’t quite get them.
But that was the difference.

 

Q.  Could you tell us what happened to your toe and if it restricted you in any way?
ANDY MURRAY:  It’s just a pretty large blister which, I mean, you get them.  I mean, the US Open final I had two black toenails.  I mean, it happens.  It happens often, especially when you’re doing that much running.

 

Q.  Had it been an issue throughout the tournament or just today?
ANDY MURRAY:  Yeah, today.  But, I mean, when you’re playing the points like we were there, the positions you’re sort of getting yourself into on the court, you expect those sort of things.

 

Q.  How did you pull up after the Federer match?
ANDY MURRAY:  I was okay.  I mean, I was stiff.  It was a four hour match.  You don’t wake up the next day and feel perfect obviously.  You know, especially when it’s one of the first tournaments of the year, too.
You know, it’s the longest match I played in six months probably.  So, yeah, you’re gonna feel a bit stiff and sore.  I obviously felt a bit better today than yesterday.  Yeah, I mean, I did all the right recovery stuff, ate well.
Yeah, it obviously wasn’t an issue, you know, today.  I mean, I started the match well.  I thought I moved pretty good throughout.

 

Q.  Why do you think it took you both so long to get a break in this match?  It took over 30 games.
ANDY MURRAY:  Yeah, that’s the thing that was surprising.  You know, I think the first two sets I had more of the chances in games on his serve.  I think I had Love 40 the beginning of the second set.
Then obviously the third and fourth set, I think he broke at 4 3, got up Love 40, I saved a couple of them, and then he managed to break.
Yeah, that was obviously one of the differences.  He just returned a little bit better.  But it was surprising that there was so few breaks the first three sets.

 

Q.  Was it a matter of serving better than usual or not returning as well as usual?
ANDY MURRAY:  I think it’s not the easiest court to return.  It was playing fairly quick this year.  Could be a combination of a lot of things.  I don’t know exactly why that would be.

 

Q.  Did the blisters restrict you?
ANDY MURRAY:  No.  It’s just a bit sore when you’re running around.  You know, it’s not like pulling a calf muscle or something.  It just hurts when you run.
But, yeah, it’s not something that stops you from playing.  You saw one of the guys at the beginning of the tournament, the guy Tomic played, I don’t know if he burnt himself, but there’s certain things that hurt when you run or hit the ball, especially blisters, but it’s not something that stops you from playing or stops you from running for balls.

 

Q.  When you talked to the umpire, were you suggesting people that were shouting out maybe be taken out of the court?
ANDY MURRAY:  No, no.  I didn’t suggest that at all.  I just said it’s important, rather than wait till it gets to an extremely important point, to try and make sure you’re a bit more vocal, you know, rather than waiting until it’s 5 3, 40 Love for Novak in the third set.
That was all I said to him.

 

Q.  Did you have a problem with your left hamstring?
ANDY MURRAY:  No.  When I played Roger, I kind of    he had kind of like a low slice serve.  I missed that and it kind of tightened up a little bit.  It feels fine just now.
It’s just, yeah, a bit sore when you’re running around.  But that’s what happens with fatigue.  You get sore; you get tired.  You know, you don’t feel perfect when you step on the court every single time.
When you play the rallies like we did tonight, you know, along with the match with Roger, that’s what happens.  It’s part and parcel of playing these big events against the best players in the world.
With how physical the game is just now, that’s just part of it.

 

Q.  Would it be fair to say you were more upbeat after this than after your other losses here?
ANDY MURRAY:  Well, I mean, there’s going to be some obvious reasons for me feeling a little bit better.  I mean, the last few months have been the best tennis of my life.  I mean, I made Wimbledon final, won the Olympics, won the US Open.  You know, I was close here as well.  It was close.
So, you know, I know no one’s ever won a slam, the immediate one after winning their first one.  It’s not the easiest thing to do.  And I got extremely close.
So, you know, I have to try and look at the positives of the last few months, and I think I’m going the right direction.  This is the first time I’ve beaten Roger in a slam over five sets.  I think I dealt with the situations and the ebbs and flows in that match well.
I felt much more comfortable on the court today than even I did at the US Open, so that has to be a positive.

 

Q.  Have you had a chance to have a chat with Ivan?  And what has he said to you if you have?
ANDY MURRAY:  He said, Bad luck.  That’s it.  There’s no point going into huge detail about the match two minutes afterwards.  We’ll go away and spend a bit of time apart.
When I go to start training over in the States, we’ll discuss not just this match but the start to the year and the things I need to improve on if I want to keep getting better.

 

Q.  The way you and Novak play defense, is being a great offensive player sort of a losing proposition at this point?  Roger in some ways is a relic.
ANDY MURRAY:  No.  I mean, I think the thing is    I don’t know if it’s because of the racquets or whatever, but I’ve been using pretty much the same racquet for 10, 11 years now.
You know, but, yeah, I don’t know.  Guys have had to adapt the way they play because of the conditions, the balls, the courts slowing down.
But if you look at maybe not right at the top of the game, but guys like Isner and Raonic, you definitely need a massive weapon that can sort of take away the defensive play, you know, that you just can’t get your racquet on balls.
You’ll probably see more and more of that.  The players certainly seem to be getting taller every year.  There’s obviously Isner, Raonic, Janowicz, he’s a big guy.  That seems to be the way the game’s changing a little bit.
But I’m obviously not going to grow, so I hope it doesn’t change too much the next few years.

 

Q.  You said you felt more comfortable tonight than you did on court at the US Open.  In what respect?
ANDY MURRAY:  I mean, I said before the US Open match I was unbelievably nervous beforehand and was doubting, you know, myself a lot.
I didn’t go on the court today having those doubts.  I went on the court and felt pretty calm from the beginning of the match.
I was obviously still nervous, but I think I just felt   I don’t know   more at home in a match like that on a court like that when you’re playing, you know, for a Grand Slam title.
I mean, the first few times I played for a Grand Slam, US Open and here, you know, I definitely struggled with it.  Now I feel more comfortable.

 

Q.  Given the long time difference between your semifinal and Novak’s, do you think in the future the tournament should look at having semifinals on the same day?
ANDY MURRAY:  I mean, that’s something for the tournament to look at.  Obviously, the US Open have made some adjustments with their scheduling, you know, to try and make it easier for the players to recover.
But I’m sure, like I said on the court, Craig knows exactly what he’s doing, and they’ll make the right decisions in that respect.

 

Q.  The feather that drifted into the court, did that distract you?
ANDY MURRAY:  I mean, I could have served.  It just caught my eye before I served.  I thought it was a good idea to move it.

Maybe it wasn’t because I obviously double faulted.  No, you know, at this level it can come down to just a few points here or there.  My probably biggest chance was at the beginning of the second set; didn’t quite get it.
When Novak had his chance at the end of the third, he got his.

 

Q.  Just to be clear, the blister only occurred in this match?  It wasn’t a remnant from the Federer match or earlier matches?
ANDY MURRAY:  I mean, I had no taping on my foot during Roger’s match, and then obviously I had to have it done today.  I very rarely get blisters.
But, I mean, 90% of the players on the tour will have played this tournament with some sort of blister or problem, you know.  It had no bearing at all on the result.  It just hurts a little bit when you run.

Transcript courtesy of ASAPSports and Tennis Australia

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Poll – Who Will Win the Australian Open Men’s Final?

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