Andy Murray was hoping to try and change the statistic that 26 of the last 27 Grand Slams have been won by Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic, but it was not to be. The strange almost five hour match was won, eventually, by Novak 6-3, 3-6, 6-7, 6-1, 7-5. Defending champion Novak will now face Rafa for the title.
In his quarterfinal Novak had been clutching at his hamstring and struggling to breathe but initially looked to be OK, but not at his best, in his match against Murray. Despite an early break Murray stayed unusually positive even after Djokovic took the first set despite increasingly struggling to breathe.
Djokovic didn’t look as willing as he has previously to move and chase balls and progressively his condition deteriorated, aided by Murray’s improved level of play. The more points Murray won the more deflated Novak looked and the worse his body language, and breathing became.
Repeatedly both players would break and then throw away their service games with sloppy errors and this trend continued in the early stages of the third set.
Djokovic looked well below par and appeared to be struggling so significantly on serve that you felt if it was 2010 the Djokovic-of-old would have retired. Novak stayed in the games courtesy of repeated series of careless and even tight errors.
Between the nasal spray for Djokovic and the electrolyte guzzling from Murray the third set was a mess of consecutive breaks, tight play and error riddled games. Novak had set points, Murray tried to serve for it but choked and both covered some serious territory as they battled, both less than 100% fit, for a spot in the finals.
Murray’s movement crippled him in the early stages of the fourth set as he quickly found himself down a double break as he attempted to stand and deliver from the baseline, missing standard shots a vital moments. Reinvigorated Djokovic put his foot down, racing to a 4-0 lead as Murray carelessly threw games away.
As Novak lifted his breathing issues became a thing of the past, showing the huge mental aspect of Djokovic’s ailments.
Squandering his challenges Murray then looked momentarily comfortable on serve before a series of errors and a great forehand winner from the Serb saw Novak serve for a 5-2 lead, heaping pressure on Andy.
Just when Murray looked to be out as Djokovic served for the match Andy broke back to love but was still serving to stay alive at 4-5. The crowd roared for Murray as he held to level at 5-5.
It was Novak who managed to fight off break points before finally breaking and taking the match after four hours and 51 minutes.
Nadal fans will undoubtedly be delighted that the match was so long after his 2009 semi final against Verdasco went for 5 hours and 14 minutes and he had to back it up 36 hours later in the final (which he won in five sets) against Roger Federer.
Djokovic has beaten Nadal the last six times they played – all finals, two in Grand Slam finals, including the US Open after Novak played a 5 set semi.