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Rediff.com  » Sports » Murray, Djokovic do battle to fill the vacuum

Murray, Djokovic do battle to fill the vacuum

Last updated on: January 29, 2011 15:39 IST

Battle to fill the vaccum

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Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray will put friendship aside when they meet in Sunday's Australian Open final to decide who fills the power vacuum left by the early exits of Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer.

The two 23-year-olds, born a week apart, will contest the first Grand Slam final without the dominant pairing of men's tennis since Djokovic beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at Melbourne Park in 2008 to win his first, and to date only, major title.

While Djokovic has that one major title, Sunday's final offers Murray a third attempt to end Britain's 75-year wait for a men's Grand Slam champion, as much as he likes to downplay the quest.


Image: Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray
Photographs: Reuters
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'I hope this is going to be better than last years'

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The Scottish fifth seed came up well short in his two previous Grand Slam finals, a loser to Federer in straight sets at both the 2008 US Open and again on Rod Laver Arena last year.

"The first match against Federer I didn't know what was going on, it just happened so quick," the Scot said after his gruelling semi-final victory over Spain's David Ferrer.

"Last year was better and I hope this is going to be better than last years but it's going to be a tough match, Novak's played a great tournament," he added.


Image: Andy Murray

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Djokovic's will be contesting in his fourth Grand Slam final

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Djokovic, who will be contesting his fourth Grand Slam final and his second in a row after last year's US Open final defeat to Nadal, said it was refreshing that neither the Spaniard nor Federer were in the final.

"They have been so dominant, such a strong two tennis players mentally, it's just been fantastic to watch them dominate the tennis on one hand," said the third seed.

"On the other hand, it was frustrating because you don't have the opportunity of maybe winning more Grand Slams," he added.


Image: Novak Djokovic

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'Murray would be eager to win a first Grand Slam title'

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Djokovic and Murray first played each other as pre-teens and have grown up together on the tennis circuit, building a friendship based on their love of football among other things.

"We have to forget about all that when we step on the court," said Djokovic.

"It's all business. I'm sure he's going to be very eager to win a first Grand Slam title," he added.

Murray agreed that he expected no quarter to be given: "Experience-wise we are similar, although he won here a few years ago. We're good friends and we practice a lot together so there wont be any secrets to our games. It's going to be a brutal match I think."


Image: Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray

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A close contest on cards

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A close contest would be expected from two players with a similar approach to the game and a 4-3 head-to-head as professionals, with Djokovic having the edge but Murray the winner of the last three.

"It's going to be interesting to see who is going to dominate from the baseline," said Djokovic.

"But I expect long rallies. I think patience and really using the opportunities when they have been given to you in certain moments," he added.

With temperatures forecast to peak at 40 degrees Celsius in Melbourne on Sunday, Djokovic thinks his extra 24 hours to recover from his impressive victory over Federer could be significant.

"It's a great fact that I have an extra day because it's been a long two weeks," Djokovic said on Saturday.

"It was a tiring semi-final against Federer mentally and physically. I recovered yesterday. Today just had a good hit. I'll be ready for tomorrow," he added.


Image: Andy Murray

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