Andy Murray takes on Novak Djokovic in his bid to earn his maiden Grand Slam major on Monday, September 10, 2012. Djokovic, the defending champion is bidding for his second US Open title. Murray trails in the head-to-head meeting 6-8, but was the victor the last time they met in the Olympics this year.
Djokovic at his best has a better winning package than Murray at his best. He is better in offence and equal in defence. His defence is more aggressive and does not make him retreat long behind the baseline. Murray’s defence makes him turn into a retrieving mode and cede court positioning advantage to the opponent. Djokovic ground strokes have more power and the angles he creates give him advantage of banging the ball in the open corners. Murray relies on the surprise element in hitting winners where he suddenly changes power behind his intended winner catching opponent unawares. Murray is good at availing opportunities, but Djokovic is good at creating an opportunity and availing it. Murray would try to win points also through forcing errors, if he is not able to execute a winner. Both of them have low net clearance on the ground strokes, but Djokovic puts more spin to clear it whereas Murray tends to bury a few forehands.
The key to Murray’s game plan would be not to let Djokovic play at his best. Roger Federer has often succeeded in preventing Djokovic from his very best by mixing up the things. Murray is equally adept at this, only that he does not play from the baseline or within. Djokovic is not that confident at volleying, but it may not be easy to force him to the net. Drop shots could prove suicidal since Djokovic moves very fast. Djokovic does not play silly shots whereas for Murray, sometimes the choice of shots is not the best and even overhead smashes might find Djokovic waiting in the same corner.
Djokovic is comfortable with the ordinary top spin on the ground strokes which he tackles well as was evident in his matches against Juan Martin Del Potro and David Ferrer. He uses the power of the opponent on such flatter shots by diverting to the other direction with just a little wrist movement which gives him both control and power. Murray too does not put that much top spin as Rafael Nadal does. Djokovic will go to the corners to open up the court. He will attack the second serve of Murray which is not yet fully developed.
Both of them are good returners of serve, but whereas Murray aims to return the ball safe, Djokovic aims to force an error. In the absence of put away shots, Murray has to play at his very best through out. Even momentary lapses can hand over irretrievable advantage to Djokovic. Murray is known to be a slow starter but is capable of a fast start as happened at the Wimbledon against Federer. It is likely that both the players would aim to start fast and the real battle might begin with the very first game.
The gap between Djokovic and Murray has diminished so much that whoever is able to utilize the few opportunities that come his way better, wins the match. The desire to get on the Grand Slam major board can give both motivation and nerves. There have been situations in the past where Murray failed to find first serve in pressure situations such as tie break or serving for the set or match. It has to be seen how he handles the pressure. Djokovic is likely to play more freely. It is an even match up with little to differentiate between the prospects of the two players.