Sun, Jan 27, 2013 - Page 19 News List

Djokovic, Murray to renew old rivalry in Australian Open final

AFP, MELBOURNE, Australia

Novak Djokovic will chase a hat-trick of Australian Open titles in today’s final against his US Open conqueror Andy Murray, renewing a growing rivalry which dates back to their junior days.

The Serb’s confidence is sky-high after his recovery from his draining five-setter over five hours with Stanislas Wawrinka in the fourth round, bouncing back with emphatic wins over Tomas Berdych and David Ferrer.

It’s little wonder the top seed feels he’s in the right frame of mind for the Murray challenge.

“It’s just the conditions in general that I like, especially on Rod Laver Arena. It’s my most successful Grand Slam,” Djokovic said. “Being in a third consecutive final is an incredible feeling and achievement, I’m so very proud of it.”

Djokovic leads Murray 10-7, with two of the wins at the Australian Open, including a straight-sets victory in the 2011 final. Born a week apart, they first met on the junior circuit before they were even teenagers.

Murray looks a different player after winning his maiden Grand Slam title at last September’s US Open, where he beat the Serb in five sets in the final.

“I think I started to play better tennis and played my optimum level more in the big matches over the last year or so, which hadn’t always been the case,” he said.

Murray, who lost four Slam finals before winning in New York last year, said the US Open victory has steeled his confidence.

“Those matches last year have obviously helped mentally. I think going through a lot of the losses that I’ve had will have helped me, as well,” he said.

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