Tennis fans are certainly going to get a treat on Monday when Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray meet in the U.S. Open final. I would consider these two men to be the best hardcourt players in the world right now, and both have been playing at a very high level at this tournament for the past two weeks. My feeling is that the man who comes out more aggressively early in the match will likely be the ultimate winner.
Andy Murray has shown this year that he has elevated his game to the point where he can now win a Grand Slam. Getting the Gold medal win in the Summer Olympics over the favored Roger Federer on his "home" (Murray is Scottish) soil in England might have been the pressure release that he's needed for so long. He's looked so amazingly efficient at the U.S. Open this year, and it also looks like he's finally mastered his emotions.
In a way, Murray is starting to look like the player Djokovic became when the Serbian finally broke through back at the beginning of 2011 with his Grand Slam title at the Australian Open. Murray has always had a great defense, but the biggest difference in his game now is that he has allowed himself to stay aggressive against opponents even at key moments. He's also seemingly a bit faster, more fit, and definitely mentally tougher. Ultimately, though, everything depends on just how great Djokovic is when he steps out onto the court Monday.
Djokovic has that unique ability to dictate how a hardcourt match goes when he is fully on his game. It's a lot like the way Rafael Nadal can simply dominate anyone on clay. It's reminiscent of the way Federer dominated at Wimbledon during his prime. During his semi-final match against David Ferrer on Saturday, the weather conditions prevented Djokovic from playing his usual hardcourt game. The gusty winds prevented him from being able to move as quickly as he likes, and his frustration clearly showed. He was fortunate that a large thunderstorm came through to halt the match when it did.
Sunday Djokvic showed exactly how good he can be when everything on the court is the way he likes. He thoroughly and quickly dominated Ferrer on a clear, sunny day. On Monday, the forecast for New York City is for a sunny day with winds around 10-15 mph (gustier winds very possible). If the wind is a factor again, I'd give the advantage to Murray. He was much less affected by the adverse weather conditions on Saturday than Djokovic. That could give Murray the mental advantage he needs to finally win his first Grand Slam title.
Julie is a featured tennis contributor for the Yahoo Contributor Network. A lifelong tennis fan, she is rooting for a five-set match tomorrow for the U.S. Open final.
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- Andy Murray
- Novak Djokovic
- Roger Federer