Djokovic primed to extend Murrays major misery
Date published :
10 Sep 2012 - 03:47:58
Defending champion Novak Djokovic attempts to extend Britain's 76-year Grand Slam wait by defeating Andy Murray in Monday's US Open final and claim the biggest payday in tennis history.
The world number two will be playing in his third Grand Slam final of 2012, having won the Australian Open before suffering a French Open defeat to Rafael Nadal in a match which, like in New York, also finished on a Monday.
Djokovic will collect $2.9 million should he win the title -- a combination of US Open prize money and a bonus for having the best record in hardcourt events in the lead-up to the tournament.
The five-time major winner swept into his third consecutive US Open final with a 2-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 win over Spain's David Ferrer on Sunday.
It was the 25-year-old's season-best 60th win of the year and extended his winning run at hardcourt majors to 27 matches.
"I think Andy's going for his shots more than he used to. Mentally I think he is more aggressive on the court right now," said Djokovic of world number four Murray, who he defeated in a marathon semi-final at January's Australian Open.
"He's one of the most complete players in the world right now. In the last couple of years he has been at the top of the men's game. This is his fifth Grand Slam final.
"We all knew that he's definitely a contender to win a Grand Slam title, any year in last five years. I guess he's going to be very motivated to win the title. But me too."
Victory by the Serb in the championship match would mean 30 out of the last 31 majors have been won by either Djokovic, Roger Federer or Nadal.
Federer was defeated in the quarter-finals while Nadal skipped New York through injury.
"It's good for tennis to see different faces in the finals of a Grand Slam. I don't mind, to be honest," said Djokovic, who goes into the final having spent five hours fewer on court than Murray in making the final.
"We played the Australian Open final in 2011, Andy and me, so it's not the first time. I'm sure we will deliver some good tennis for the people."
Third-seed Murray, who trails the Serb 8-6 in career meetings, is bidding to become Britain's first men's Grand Slam champion since Fred Perry in 1936.
Murray and his coach, Ivan Lendl, are the only players in the Open era to have lost their first four Grand Slam finals.
The Scot was beaten by Federer in New York in 2008, Australia in 2010 and at Wimbledon this year, where he ended in floods of tears, while Djokovic beat him in straight sets in the Melbourne final in 2011.
But Murray, who will replace Nadal next week as world number three, got close at this year's Australian Open, where he was two-sets-to-one up in the semi-finals before Djokovic triumphed in a tough five-setter.
The Serb then went on to claim his fifth major in a marathon final win over Nadal that lasted almost six hours.
Murray, also 25, says his self-belief has been boosted by his Olympic Games gold medal.
"It's the last thing that I really want to achieve in my career, so that's why it's obviously very important for me," said Murray, who reached a second US Open final with a 5-7, 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (9/7) win over Tomas Berdych on Saturday.
"Winning the Olympics did take a bit of the pressure off. I did feel a lot better after that. Maybe had less doubts about myself and my place in the game just now.
"So, winning a major is the last thing that I really want to do. It means a lot to me. You saw at Wimbledon how much that meant to me. It's obviously not easy to lose another Slam final, so I hope this one is a different story.
"I think my results in the Slams over the last couple of years have been very good. And obviously this year in the major tournaments along with the Olympics, it's been my best year," said Murray.
Djokovic's win over the Scot in Australia was eased by Murray's straight-sets triumph in the Olympic semi-finals.
"I handled a big match against him well in Australia this year. It was a great match. I think both of us played very well. It came down to a couple of points," said Murray.
"Winning against him in the Olympic semi-final was a big win for me. He moves very well on the hardcourts. He's a top, top player, one of the best players that has played."