There had been a look in Novak Djokovic’s eyes since he battle Stan Wawrinka at the Australian Open, a look that since 2011 has been a sign of his determination and an indicator of the likely outcome of the tournament. Djokovic looked, despite the enormous amount of time he spent on court, like he was hungry for a third consecutive Australian Open title.
Andy Murray, his opponent in the final, looked unusually calm – a peace, and sense of direction that seemed to descend on the Scot after winning the Olympic gold medal and the US Open last year. For the first set of their final it looked like Murray was the one keeping a calm head and as though the weary Djokovic would be frustrated by his shoes slipping and his inability to convert break points.
Despite five break point chances Djokovic failed to make headway in the first set, with Andy eventually steam rolling him in the tie break. The second set began with a flurry of points for Murray but it wasn’t long before he started talking to his box and poking his body like he can do when his mind is not in the best space.
The second set again went to a tie break as Murray began to feel the physical effects of his long match with Roger Federer – a huge blister and a tight hamstring. This time it was Novak who came out on top in the tiebreak.
Then the beast awoke.
As the match wore on Murray began to hurt in more ways than one as it became clear what the outcome was going to be. As he battled on the head started to hang more frequently, his hand got bitten and his blister impacted his movement around the court as Djokovic refused to show him mercy.
After the match Murray spoke downplayed the impact of the physical issues he had during the match. : “It’s a bit sore when you’re running around, it’s not like pulling a calf muscle it hurts when you run. It’s not something that stops you from playing. There are certain things that just hurt when you run and hit the ball but it doesn’t stop you from playing. I very rarely get blisters but 90 per cent of players will have played with one or a problem.”
As much as he appeared to be in good form I doubt there were many who truly believed that Murray could win three major titles in a row following his win at the Olympics and the US Open. It was, however, impressive to see that he is perhaps more focused on striving forward than he ever has been before now that he can see a clear pathway ahead.
“The last few months have been the best tennis of my life, I know no-one’s ever won a slam straight after their first and I got close so I have to look at the positives of the last few months. I’m in the right direction. It’s the first time I’ve beaten Roger in a grand slam. Before the US Open I was nervous and doubting myself, today i was nervous but confident, I felt more at home on a court like that.”