Back when I wrote my Aussie Open preview, I had Federer over Djokovic in the final (before I knew what the bracket was. Obviously that was an impossibility). One of those men has made it, but Andy Murray joins Djokovic in his second Aussie Open final in a row.
Djokovic has had the more impressive run through the tournament. He ran through Tomas Berdych, who had dominated, in straight sets. Then he ran through Roger Federer in straight sets. He has an Australian Open title in 2008, and it’s clear that this has always been his favorite grand slam event. He is serving well, returning well, moving well, and his backhand is as good as I have ever seen it. He looks ready to move Federer out of the top two in the world.
But to make this preview all about the Djoker would overlook Andy Murray, who is playing like a champion in his own right. Even though he is the 5th seed in this tournament, I have been saying for over a year now that he is the 3rd best player in the world. And it might be true, it’s just that he still might not be as good as Djokovic right now. Still, it’s tough to judge how well Murray has played so far, given that he avoided having to play both Soderling and Nadal. Instead, he dispatched the young Ukrankain Alexandr Dolgopolov in the quarters and David Ferrer in the semis. But before anyone discounts the Ferrer win, Ferrer is maybe the best defensive player on tour right now, and while Murray usually stuck with his own defensive style, his offense, when he unleashed it, was too much for the Spaniard. I think that Djokovic will have trouble dealing with it as well.
And as good as Berdych and Federer are, neither is the type of counterpuncher that Murray is. Djokovic loves Australia, but Murray has said that this slam has his favorite surface as well. I think it will be a tough final, but in the end I see Andy Murray becoming the first British man to win a grand slam since Fred Perry way back in 1936.
For those of you up late tonight, we will be live-blogging the Mens final. We do hope you stop by. P.S. The final starts at 3:30AM EST tonight.