On this day: Novak Djokovic topples Andy Murray to lift second Major



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On this day: Novak Djokovic topples Andy Murray to lift second Major

Novak Djokovic claimed the first Major title at the Australian Open 2008, embracing tennis glory at the age of 20 and becoming the youngest player with the semi-final at all for Major tournaments! The Serb was already the third-strongest competitor on the Tour behind Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal and the candidate at every notable event in the last couple of years, delivering his best tennis on the most significant tennis stage and reaching at least the quarters in 13 out of 15 tournaments between 2007-10!

Carried by this momentum after the historic crown in Melbourne, Djokovic was the semi-finalist at Roland Garros and the US Open, playing in the last four in New York in 2009 as well and losing against Rafael Nadal in the title match in 2010.

Beaten in the latter stages at the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon too, Novak stayed on that lone Grand Slam title before turning the tide in 2011 when he conquered the tennis world by a storm. Winning Davis Cup with Serbia at the end of 2010 and overcoming his physical problems, Djokovic never looked back since the beginning of the next year, setting the course towards one of the greatest players of all time and using 2011 Australian Open as the first stop on that journey.

After some troubles against Ivan Dodig in the second round, Novak raced towards the semi-final where he prevailed against Roger Federer 7-6, 7-5, 6-4 in three hours for the place in the fourth Major final. There, the Serb took down the last year's finalist Andy Murray 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 in two hours and 39 minutes on January 30, scoring the fifth win over the Scot in eight encounters in their first clash in almost two years.

Murray defeated Djokovic in the last three matches but stood no chance in this one, serving at only 54% and dropping half of the points behind the initial shot to end on the losing side in the third straight Major final he entered.

Novak controlled the pace all the time, facing four break chances and suffering three breaks, erasing that deficit with seven breaks of serve from no less than 18 opportunities that kept him safe all the time. Djokovic had more winners and fewer unforced errors, standing just behind Murray in the shortest rallies (Andy had 27 service winners in comparison to 15 from Novak) but overpowering his opponent completely in the mid-range and more extended exchanges to seal the deal in straight sets and celebrate the title.

Djokovic held at love at the start of the match and forced five deuces in the next game before Andy held with a service winner to avoid an early setback. After seven good holds on both sides, Murray opened the tenth game with a double fault and suffered a break after a forehand error, handing the first set to Novak after almost an hour of play.

A backhand crosscourt winner moved Djokovic ahead early in the second set and a service winner sent him 3-0 up, looking better and better on the court and extending the lead with another break in the fourth game when Andy's backhand landed beyond the baseline.

Murray saved a set point in the sixth game to avoid an embarrassment and a bagel, breaking Novak at love in game seven to reduce the deficit to 5-2 and prolong the set. Djokovic stayed focused and completed the set with another break in game eight, forging a massive lead and looking good to bring the match home without any troubles.

Facing a mission impossible, Murray kicked off the third set with a break, squandering the lead in the very next game after a terrible smash that finished miles away from the court and missing a chance to gain at least some confidence and momentum.

The Serb clinched another break in game four thanks to a perfect backhand down the line winner before getting broken in the next game too after a loose drop shot, keeping Murray on the positive side of the scoreboard. The Scot endured another tough service game to level the score at 3-3 with a forehand winner, giving his best in what was a must-win set for him if he wanted to keep the title dreams alive.

Novak held at 15 with a brutal backhand down the line winner and made a crucial move in the game that followed when Murray wasted two game points, forcing a forehand error from his good friend and coeval to open a 5-3 gap.

Serving for the title, Djokovic took advantage of three unforced errors from Andy, celebrating his second Grand Slam title with fans and making the best possible start of the season that would become one of the best in the Open era.