Australian Open Men’s Final 2011: Djokovic Outclasses a Sullen Murray to Clinch Second Slam Title
The Australian Open final did not unfortunately turn out to be the fierce showdown we were all hoping. A confident, big-hitting Novak Djokovic defeated a petulant Andy Murray with ease, securing his second slam trophy in Melbourne in straight sets.
It was a game of two very contrasting figures. In the one corner of the Rod Laver Arena, a hard-hitting resemblance to a buffed-up replica of Screech from Saved by the Bell, wildly overdosing off confidence and powerful forehands. In the other, a sullen man, haunted by the ghost of Fred Perry, forgetting how to a, hit a first serve and b, talk to your mother in a way that both expresses candid emotion and is acceptable in our progressive society.
And so it went for two-and-something hours before Novak Djokovic inflicted the final wound into Andy Murray, who was already looking more and more like your opponent in Wii Boxing who you relentlessly beat down before the second set had even really gotten into its rhythm. Djokovic took the match with a cool 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 win.
Although perhaps it’s more accurate to say that Murray gifted Djokovic the match; practically having it gift-wrapped for him. Only a week between the two in age, their games were lightyears apart.
It’s difficult to say what moments of the match were worthy of being reported. Perhaps Murray’s very first service in the match, which lasted an incredible 16 minutes, included fives deuces before Murray eventually took it. But it proved to be a warning-sign for Murray’s service game. It all sort of went down hill from there; Murray barely managed to hit 50 per cent of his first serves for the remainder of the match.
Djokovic could only play along with it. He didn’t need a game plan, nor a strong head. All it required were steady groundstrokes and quick feet. For a man hot of the heels of defeating Roger Federer in the semifinals, this proved a formality.
Having shown such promise leading up the final and carrying the expectations of that illustrious first slam title, Murray’s frustrations vibrated into his team’s box, where his coach and his mother watched from. After losing the first set, he looked to them and gestured that they calm down. After losing the second, the whole arena heard him holler “Shut up” towards them, before sulking on his bench.
After the final point, an over-joyed Djokovic stripped off his shirt and shoes and went mildly ballistic. This was only the Serb’s second slam, after winning in Melbourne three years ago at only 20-year-old. Murray, on the other hand, sort of looked relieved it was all over – kind of like Leafs forward Phil Kessel will be feeling later today during the NHL All Star game.
What was even more stomach-churning than Murray’s performance, though, was the exchange of words by the two players during the trophy presentation. “You had an unbelievable tournamentand deserved to win,” Murray said to Djokovic. “I look forward to playing against you in the future. I would like to thank my team … yadda yadda yadda.”
Djokovic returned the kind words, saying: ”It was really difficult to play against you tonight. Hopefully you will have a chance to win a grand slam. I’m sure with your talent, you will.” Watching this brought back eerie flashbacks of a 13-year-old me trying to flirt with the freckled girl who sat across from me in French class.
Murray predicted that the match would be “brutal,” but that was surely aimed at spectators in the Rod Laver Arena with pacemakers, overwhelmed by the capricious rallies. In the end, he was the only one to suffer. Well, him and rest of the UK still waiting for that British grand slam title in 75 years. This was Murray’s third slam final, and he has failed to win a single set in each.
Is a new strategy needed? Maybe Murray should be chained up to his bed and doused in holy water as his team try to exorcise the ghost of Fred Perry.
Woah, that it, then. I’d like to thank everybody you tuned into my Australian Open coverage over the last two weeks. If I kept you acutely informed and mildly entertained I consider it a great success. See you all at Roland Garros in May.
Photos courtesy of Fox Sports and EPA
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