Their second straight major final, third consecutive meeting in Melbourne, only four pairs met thrice in a row at the Australian Open before # Each of these encounters of two 25-year-old men featured different colors of clothes (White vs. Green, White vs. Red, Dark Violet vs. Dark Gray respectively), different outcome of sets (3, 5, 4 respectively) as well. The 2013 final was like a chess game: both players were very conservative, glued to the baseline and mainly focused on well developed patters of winning service games, which caused a new record of Grand Slam finals in terms of holding consecutive service games from start ## Murray didn’t even lose a point on ad-court delivering his 1st serve-in over two sets! The first blood, literally, came in the 7th game (15-all) of the 1st set when Djokovic dived on the back of the court and won a point with two subsequent strokes after a drop-shot. He looked more solid out there (Murray saved four break points at 2:3 and another one at 3:4), however, at the end of the set he seemed a bit paralyzed – led 6:5* (30/15) when his ground-strokes became very tentative and lost seven points in a row; when he entered the tie-break scoreboard at 0:4, it happened as he barely hit the line with a shaky overhead. The crisis of uncertainty was extended to the first two games of the 2nd set, the Serbian apprehended it at 0:1 (0/40) gaining two points with comprehensive winners, Murray wasted one of those break points sending a backhand long.
Anyway the Scot led 6:5* (30-all), so he was two points away from a two-sets-to-love advantage, repeating the outcome of the first two sets of their previous Grand Slam final, but this time Djokovic was much more better adjusted than at the critical stages of the previous set, and struck an overhead to get a 40/30. He displayed immediate self-confidence of the highest order in the tie-break, in which at 2-all unusual thing occurred – just before Murray’s second serve, a feather emerged out of nowhere in front of him. He halted his service motion, removed the feather from his sight, and committed a double fault a few seconds later… After the 2nd set Murray took a medical time-out for the treatment of right-feet blisters; in the first few games of the 3rd set he was still moving very well. The opening point of the 8th game was consisted of 36 strokes (longest rally of the match), ended up with Djokovic’s inside-out forehand winner – first check. This rally brought reminiscence of their Australian Open final two years before when Murray had lost a 39-stroke rally and didn’t recover after that. To some degree it was the same case this time, the Scot lost his serve on third break point in that game, and counting from 3-all in the 4th set he lost 9 out of 11 games to the end of the event. Hypothetically, if hadn’t been tie-breaks at majors, Djokovic would have won “1st set” 17-15 after almost three hours of play! Murray’s demeanor afterwards could suggest as he lost such a long set instead of being a break down in the 3rd set. His pretty long service streak was broken as well as his fighting spirit. Since that 8th game of the 3rd set, with every point Djokovic seemed more and more fresh & confident while Murray’s physical struggle more and more evident. He had a break point at 1:0 in the 4th set only to witness Djokovic’s service winner. Fifteen minutes later or so, the Serb already leading 3:1 showed amazing commitment in defense sensing the approaching success, and it was check-mate – the glum Murray served a double fault facing a break point and the final was virtually over. Admittedly Murray led 30/0 in the last two service games of Djokovic, but the Serb twice found a new gear being down to get four consecutive points, in the farewell game Murray was running like crazy during three consecutive points to no avail. The championship point was actually as unspectacular as the whole final – Murray netted his forehand, and Djokovic celebrated in squatting position. The leader of the ranking collects his third consecutive Australian Open title, it’s something no-one achieved in the Open era before, in the entire history just two players managed to do that: Jack Crawford in years 1931-33, and Roy Emerson, who got five titles in a row short of the Open era (1963-67). “I have to try and look at the positives of the last few months, and I think I’m going the right direction,” said Murray, now the three-time Aussie Open finalist (2010-11, 13). “This is the first time I’ve beaten Roger in a Grand Slam over five sets. I think I dealt with the situations and the ebbs and flows in that match well. I know that no one’s ever won a Grand Slam, the immediate one after winning their first one. It’s not the easiest thing to do.” Djokovic, who grabbed 35th title (6th major), said: “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. There were a few turning points in the match. Maybe one of them was the second game in the second set when I was 0/40 against the breeze. He missed a few shots. I managed to have that crucial hold. After that I felt just mentally a little bit lighter and more confident on the court than I had done in the first hour or so.” They have played eight matches against each other in the last 12 months, including two last Grand Slam finals, and I assume they’re going to meet in a major final at least once more in 2013 ###. Stats of the match.
(1)B.Bryan/M.Bryan d. R.Haase/I.Sijsling 6-3, 6-4
# Most consecutive matches at Australian Open:
3 – Steve Docherty vs. Robin Drysdale (1977-78) * 3 – Mats Wilander vs. Johan Kriek (1983-85) 3 – Ivan Lendl vs. Stefan Edberg (1990-92) 3 – Jim Courier vs. Stefan Edberg (1991-93) 3 – Novak Djokovic vs. Andy Murray (2011-13)
* Two editions in 1977
# Number of consecutive service holds in Grand Slam finals from start: 31 – Novak Djokovic vs. Andy Murray (Australian Open 2013) 28 – Pete Sampras vs. Patrick Rafter (Wimbledon 2000) 25 – Pete Sampras vs. Jim Courier (Wimbledon 1993) & Pete Sampras vs. Goran Ivanisevic (Wimbledon 1994)
## Comparison of the finalists: Djokovic Age 25.8; tournaments 146; finals 35-19 (6-4 majors); matches 476-123; tie-breaks 138-81; five-setters 18-6 Murray
Age 25.8; tournaments 149; finals 25-14 (1-5 majors); matches 389-124; tie-breaks 113-72; five-setters 14-6