So here we go, the final of the US Open and Murray's opportunity to get his first slam. I don't think many people will be on the Scot tonight - and even fewer from this forum - but I fancy his chances and I like the odds, so I'll take a plunge into the unknown.
Murray @ 3.25
also Malek @ 1.90
Radwanska x Oprandi @ 2.00
Panova @ 2.10
I'm a Murray fan, he's my second favorite player on tour and just like many including those that aren't fans of his I'd like to see him crack the vault and achieve immortality tomorrow but I'm not buying it.
Djokovic has been a different animal ever since Wimbledon ended. His statistics are mind boggling. Aside from that treacherous first set he had against Federer which eventually cost him the title in Cincinnati he's been out of this world good the last 3 tournaments. He's 35-2 in sets and again, his only real lulls were one set vs. an in form Haas in Canada, the Fed debacle, and a rough set against a hot Ferrer yesterday.
Compare that with what we've gotten from Murray and they've taken drastically different paths to reach the last Grand Slam match of the 2012 campaign.
Muzza withdrew early on in Toronto on the heels of his Olympic conquest and then lost inexplicably to Chardy in the third round in straight sets in Cincy. Whats troubling about these two tourneys is that this is usually where Murray begins to play his very best tennis of the year and the last 4 years he's had the most success at the combination tournaments of Canada and Cincinnati. To see him lose early there was a bad omen.
But Murray showed his prowess and veteran experience to once against capitalize on the absence of his biggest nemesis, Rafael Nadal and has found a way to reach his 5th Grand Slam final. The trouble? Murray is 1-12 in sets in sets in GS finals. Although he's found a way to take advantage of injuries, a favorable draw and early bailouts by higher seeds, Murray's road to the final has been less than impressive.
He needed to win 3 tough tiebreakers against Lalo Lopez who is not an elite player and was just points away from being stretched to a 4th. He did dispose of Raonic in impressive fashion but followed that up with a relatively dismal performance against Cilic, who was up a set and a double break before completely imploding and basically quitting before losing in 4 sets. Murray reached the final by beating a tough customer in Tomas Berdych in tough 4 sets but again Berdych was just a point or two away from stretching that match to 5 sets in conditions that heavily favored Muzza and really worked against the Czech Man.
The bottom line here is that Murray really hasn't played well at all the last two weeks he's just done a great job of gutting out victories with his experience and guile against guys who have rarely shined at this level.
Its going to take a lot more than that to beat Djokovic. Bookies are some of the biggest con artists on the planet and their key to success is deception. Punters are looking at this price of 3.6 and foaming at the mouth wanting to lay coin on the British gold medalist. The Olympic match though has little to zero relevance here. Some guys are bothered by playing someone who beat them the last time out but Djokovic has proven on numerous occasions that this doesn't bother him. The one factor that does bother me a little bit is that the one surface they've played on this year that resembles most the conditions they'll face today on Arthur Ashe are the ones they saw in Dubai where Muzza knocked off Djokovic 2 and 5, but again Djokovic is just a different animal in slams. If you look closely the price of 1.40 for Djokovic is a bargain.
The margins the big 4 play with are razor thin and any of them can beat each other on any surface any given day (with the exception of Rafa on clay), but unless theres a drastic change in form the last 36 hours I just think that Nole is playing on a much, MUCH higher level than Murray. Many figure to jump on the price of Murray considering his 5 set war with Djokovic in Melbourne this year, his victory over the Serb in Dubai, the experience gained by his first ever Wimbledon final and his triumph at the Olympics but none of this can surpass the mental block of winning a Grand Slam.
There will be big points throughout this match that are pressure filled and during each and every single one of those points Djokovic will have a big advantage because of everything he's done (his pounding of Murray in the '11 AO final, his 5 Grand Slam titles, and his 15-1 record on the North American hard court swing). During the big points, Djokovic will draw to this experience and Murray will feel the pressure of the moment since inevitably the pressure of every GS that passes without him lifting the trophy passes more doubt creeps in.
I would be stunned if Djokovic dropped a set but theres no way he drops more than one. The heartache for the new world #3 continues as he'll have to wait atleast another 4 months to get an opportunity like this again. Nole adds #6 to the resume and gets Fed and Nadal wondering if he's a viable threat to pass both of their Slam totals.
to win the 2012 US Open @ 1.40 over Andrew Murray