Great Scot Ready For A British Breakthrough

Image courtesy of Reuters/eurosport.com
Andy Murray is searching for his first Wimbledon crown. Image courtesy of eurosport.com/Reuters
For all the upsets that have turned this in to an unforgettable tournament, it finishes, as probably expected at the start, with Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray facing off in the men’s final. Both have had to endure one five-setter so far, but apart from that, it has been relatively smooth sailing to the decider.

Fatigue would have been the last concern for punters backing Novak Djokovic heading in to his semi-final, but after blowing match points in the fourth set tie-break against in-form Juan Martin del Potro, the Serb had to slug it out in a fifth and deciding set before triumphing after almost five hours of tennis. Uncharacteristically, Djokovic was only able to convert three of his 15 break point opportunities, and he’ll have to do better if he’s to take out the final against an opponent unlikely to give him a similar number of chances.

Murray has had a dream draw so far, with 20th seed Mikhail Youzhny the highest ranked opponent he has faced in his quest to become Britain’s first Wimbledon champion since Fred Perry 77 years ago. In saying that, he only just squeezed past game Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in a thriller that went the distance , while he was overwhelmed at times by the power-packed serve of rising Polish star Jerzy Janowicz in the semis. His opponents 11 double faults for the match were crucial, as each of Murray’s three breaks came on the back of service errors.

These players have only met once on grass, and that was at the London Olympics last year where Murray won 7-5 7-5 in front of a patriotic home crowd in the semi-finals. You could argue much more is on the line here, given Great Britain’s desperation for a home grown champion at the All England Club. While Djokovic won here in 2011, grass is not his best surface, given the lack of bounce, and Murray’s greater variety and ability to create angles and produce pin-point drop shots will trouble the big man, despite his amazing athleticism.

Djokovic has an 11-7 head to head advantage over the Scot. This will be the third time in four Slams they have met in the final match of the tournament. Djokovic comfortably won in four sets at Melbourne Park in January, and it was his ability to move forward with aggression and finish points off at the net which stood out that night. If he plays with the same sort of intent, Murray will find it difficult to find chinks in his near-impregnable game. Coach Ivan Lendl helped the great British hope to his first Grand Slam win in the US Open last year. Wimbledon was his Holy Grail, though, and despite reaching the final twice and semis on five occasions, he was never able to break through for victory at The Championships. His protégé might just have to wait another year, too. 

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