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By Niall Clarke

  • Andy Murray vs Novak Djokovic preview
  • Head to head: 21-9 Djokovic
  • Murray is seeking his first Australian Open title after four defeats in the final

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA- Andy Murray will hope fifth time is a charm when he faces world number one Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open final on Sunday.

The British number one has not had the best of luck when it comes to finals in Melbourne. Murray has played four Championship matches here and he has lost them all- it is quite astonishing.

Three of those finals were contested against the man who yet again stands in his way on Sunday. Djokovic defeated Murray in the 2011, 2013 and 2015 finals with Roger Federer being the other man to stop Murray at the last stage in 2010.

Murray will be keen to avoid a fifth disappointment on Sunday, but he remains positive about his chances and says that five Australian Open finals is a great achievement.

“Five finals is a great achievement. You can’t take that away from me.” Murray said after the semi final.

“I should be happy about that. There’s very few players that will have made five Australian Open finals, so I have to be proud of that achievement.

Obviously when you get to the final you’re disappointed if you don’t win. But, I mean, I’ve obviously played very good tennis here. I’ve given myself many opportunities to reach the finals. Seven straight quarterfinals, as well.

“I have a very good shot on Sunday if I play my best tennis, like I said. I need to do it for long enough to have a chance. I’m aware of that. I don’t think many people are expecting me to win on Sunday. I have to just believe in myself, have a solid game plan, and hopefully execute it and play well.

“But, you know, the previous disappointments, it’s one tennis match. Doesn’t matter what’s happened in the past really. It’s about what happens on Sunday. People like to read into what’s happened in the past, but Stan beat Rafa in the final here. I don’t know, I don’t think he’d ever won against him in like 13 attempts. When he beat Novak here, the same thing, as well.

There’s no reason it’s not possible for me to win.”

The man cross the net on Sunday is the record title holder in Melbourne with five victories in the first Grand Slam of the year. Since the change to plexicushion in 2008, Djokovic has dominated this tournament, winning over half the Australian Open tournaments contested since the surface change. Since 2011 only Stan Wawrinka has got the better of Djokovic here.

The Serb also holds a staggering 21-9 head to head advantage against Murray and has won their past two meetings routinely in straight sets. The British number one’s success against Djokovic has mainly come on faster surfaces with victories in the 2013 Wimbledon final and 2012 US Open final being the most notable. Djokovic has won all their meetings in Melbourne.

So what can Murray do to claim his tenth win over Djokovic on Sunday?

“Well, I mean, we’ve played obviously a lot in the last couple of years. Last year here is a good match for me to look at because the tennis, in my opinion, wasn’t miles apart. It was a very close match for three sets.” Murray said in his post match press conference on Friday.

“Same thing in Miami when we played there. A couple sets were very tight. French Open was close, as well. Obviously managed to get the win in Canada in another very close match.

Yeah, the most important thing for me is to sustain my level for long enough, not just for one set here or there, a few games here or there. I need to do it, you know, for a very long period if I want to get the win. That’s my challenge on Sunday.”

The top seed looked imperious against Federer on Thursday despite a lapse in the third set. However Djokovic had his troubles with Gilles Simon in round four which went the distance. Murray on the other hand may count himself a little fortunate that he came through against Milos Raonic. The Canadian was up two sets to one before having to call on the trainer due to an injury- The Brit ended up pulling through the match in five sets on Friday.

With the scheduling meaning that one semi final was played on Thursday, the world number one has had an extra days rest to prepare for the final- will that have an effect on the outcome?

It is crunch time for Murray as he bids to break his Australian Open duck. For Djokovic it is a search for a record sixth Australian Open title and 11th Grand Slam title. That would tie him with the great Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg on the all time list and put him within three of Rafael Nadal and Pete Sampras.

Expect a gruelling contest between two of the fittest and quickest players in the world. The rallies will be long and the match on a knife edge- Let’s just hope Kim doesn’t go into labour early.

The Australian Open Final will take place on Sunday at approximately 8am GMT.

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