(The result for this match has been included, and updated Changeover Staff Standings can be found at the bottom of this post)
Final: Novak Djokovic vs. Andy Murray
Time: 3:30 AM ET – Sunday, January 27th
Head to Head: 10-7, Djokovic
Novak Djokovic won, 6-7(2), 7-6(3), 6-3, 6-2 – Read all about it here!
Amy’s Pick: I’ve had a hard time making a pick. Andy Murray’s win over Roger Federer was an amazing display of just how much he’s improved not only in having more confidence, but also his tennis abilities. His forehand and serve, formerly weaknesses, were potent weapons against the World No. 2.
As impressive as it was, I have to stick with my original pick for this tournament and go with Djokovic in five. Nobody is capable of playing the way Djokovic does on these Melbourne courts. But I’m not confident in my pick.
Juan José’s Pick: The Mirror Image Rivalry is upon us again. These two met seven times last year, a pretty incredible feat, and will once again have their first bout of the season at the Australian Open. Djokovic was down 2-3 in the 2012 head-to-head until their eventful final in Shanghai, where the Serb somehow saved five match points en route to the win. Their last match of the year, at the World Tour Finals, was a dud (and traumatized Amy, who recapped it using GIFS. That win gave Djokovic a slight 4-3 edge in the calendar year head-to-head.
It was a pity that the wind ruined their US Open final – I had a feeling leading into that match that it was going to be a classic. A few weeks later, the men from 1987 played a fantastic match that very few people saw: the Shanghai Masters 1000 final. I firmly believe that tonight’s match will be played in that vein: after all, Rod Laver Arena doesn’t let a whole lot of wind interfere with play, and the surface laid there is very similar to Shanghai. A fast hard court helps these guys get more penetration with their shots, which allows rallies to be more aggressive – and more fun.
Tonight’s match will be largely influenced by two things: 1) How well has Andy Murray been able to recover from his four hour battle with Roger Federer two days ago? and 2) Can Novak Djokovic summon at least some of his incredible form from his semifinal demolition of David Ferrer? Sure, there are other tactical dynamics that will appear throughout the match: how well they can serve to fend off the other’s incredible returning, how well can their forehands hold up, and how often can Murray take away the down-the-line initiative from Djokovic.
One has to remember, though, that these two have been playing against each other since they were kids. There’s hardly any secrets between them. Djokovic and Murray even practice together quite often. Hence, tonight’s final will be all be about execution and the ability to keep their mental anguish in check, not about any surprising tactical developments.
At the beginning of the tournament I thought we were going to have a Djokovic-Del Potro final, with Djokovic coming on top. But midway through the tournament, I picked this final during our podcast, and picked Murray to win it. Indeed, the Scot showed me a lot of mental toughness in his semifinal win against Federer — but I’m going to change my mind yet again and pick Novak Djokovic to make history as the only man to win three straight Australian Opens. He’ll do it in four very tough sets.
Lindsay’s Pick: I’ve been previewing this match for 10sWorld, and as I’ve been writing and researching, the one thing that has struck me the most about these two is how they’ve both been able to turn their weaknesses into strengths. Djokovic has turned from a talented player without the stamina to compete in tough matches or tough conditions to a talented player who is even more talented because he is so unbelievably fit. Murray, meanwhile, used to mope around court, grab at things, and be blown away when he was in any kind of discomfort. Now he revels in that pain. It fuels him. He seeks it out and it makes him work harder. It’s a bit twisted, but it’s also incredibly impressive.
I am at a dead heat in my mind when it comes to making a prediction, and as you can see by the standings I am not exactly good at this. But I thought Djokovic would win at the beginning of the tournament and I’m going to stick with that. He’s the fresher one physically and mentally, and he’s going to want to get revenge over Murray for the US Open. I say Djokovic in four sets.
1. Amy: 14-2 Matches with Correct Number of Sets Picked: 8
2. Juan José: 11-5 Matches with Correct Number of Sets Picked: 6
3. Lindsay: 10-6 Matches with Correct Number of Sets Picked: 8