• Tennistalk's 2012 Matches of the Year: Djokovic vs. Murray

    12/6/12 4:33 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Tennistalk's 2012 Matches of the Year: Djokovic vs. Murray Tennistalk's countdown of 2012's Top 10 matches continues with numbers three and four. Both featured Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, one in Melbourne and one in Flushing Meadows.

    4. Novak Djokovic vs. Andy Murray 6-3, 3-6, 6-7(4), 6-1, 7-5 - Australian Open semifinals

    Rarely does the Australian Open fail to give us memorable, five-set epics. With only two matches remaining, the 2012 installment delivered--starting with a grueling semifinal between Djokovic and Murray. It lasted four hours and 50 minutes, complete with brutal rallies and gut-wrenching momentum swings. With winners always at a premium when a match features two of the best defensive players in tennis, Djokovic and Murray combined for 96 such shots. Most of their errors came at the end of 20, 30, even 40-ball exchanges.

    The two competitors alternated sets through the fourth--with Murray always ahead by one set or tied--until Djokovic parlayed his momentum from a dominant fourth into a hard-fought, victorious fifth. The top-ranked Serb led 5-2 in the decider but dropped three games in a row and even faced break points at 5-5. However, he recovered one last time to hold and break his opponent for the win.

    "I think we both went through a physical crisis," Djokovic explained. "You have to find strength in those moments and energy, and that keeps you going. At this level, very few points decide the winner. It was a very even match throughout, from the first to the last point. He was fighting. I was fighting. It was a physical match. It was one of the best matches I played. Emotionally and mentally it was equally hard. Not many words that can describe the feeling of the match."

    3. Andy Murray d. Novak Djokovic 7-6(10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 - U.S. Open final

    After another heartbreak at Wimbledon, Murray needed something to get his big-match confidence on track in time for the U.S. Open. When the third-ranked Scot captured gold at the Olympics, many thought it would propel him to even bigger and better things. It did...and a lot sooner than most expected.

    Displaying the strongest mental fortitude of his career, Murray stormed back from a set and 5-1 deficit against Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals before braving the elements to beat Tomas Berdych in the semis. It showed again, to an even greater extent, when Murray blew a two-set lead in the title match and saw Djokovic force a fifth. With his slam dreams slipping away at the hands of an inspired, more experienced opponent, and having already been out there for more than four hours (the first two sets alone lasted 2:26), Murray dug deep and broke early in the final set and persevered to victory. The reward for four hours and 54 minutes of high-quality tennis was his first Grand Slam triumph.

    "You know, when you get so close to achieving really my last goal I had left to achieve in tennis in winning a Grand Slam, and when you have been there many times and not done it, it is easy to doubt yourself," Murray admitted. "I'm just glad I managed to finally do it.... When I was serving for the match, it's something that I realized how important that moment was for British tennis or British sport. It's something that hasn't happened for a long time obviously in our country so I'm obviously proud that I managed to achieve it. Everyone's in a bit of shock, to be honest."

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2. Aussie Open

3. US Open .com/watch?v=WSTKMAS3IYQ

RickyDimon , 12/6/12 5:08 PM

Djokovic-Murray in AO SF in the 4th place ?

C'mon, that was by far the best match of the year. No doubt about it.

I reallt don't understand why all the media is putting Djokovic-Nadal AO final at the 1st place, just because they played almost 6 hours doesn't mean it was a quality/fun match. In fact, in terms of quality, it was really boring. It only became emotional at the end of the 4th when Rafa won that tie break. But to me, there are a lot more fun matches played this year than that one.

Emiliano55 , 12/7/12 4:31 PM

Djokovic-Murray at the AO was my No. 2 by FAR. No other match (other than my No. 1) was even close to that in my opinion.

RickyDimon , 12/7/12 4:38 PM

What was your n1 then ?

Emiliano55 , 12/7/12 4:59 PM

I don't think that Nole/Murray AO SF match was good enough to be the best match of the year, simply because of how badly Murray played in the fourth set. To me the Fed/Rafa AO SF was of a higher quality, though it didn't go to a fifth set. I also think that the AO final was a better match than the Nole/Murray SF, not because it went to six hours, but because there's no let down from either party during the final. I still prefer the AO SF between Fed and Rafa, because of the shot making and contrast of styles.

luckystar , 12/7/12 5:18 PM

^^The Murray Djokovic match took a while to get going and yes Murray's behaviour was ridiculous in the 4th, but wow its moments were more memorable to me than another fedal match (with the usual outcome).
The AO final was just not my cup of tea.
I wonder how many people feel tempted to fire up their PVR for that one too often.

Twinge , 12/7/12 5:45 PM

It won't be too often. How many 6 hours match so far?? More like 4+ hours match, like that of the USO final this year, that final is also not my cup of tea. Frankly, I prefer Fedal, then Fed/Nole and then Fed/Murray, as there're contrast of styles. Nole/Murray too similar styles, Rafa/Nole too.

I appreciate Fed's style more especially when he's against the other three guys, after seeing the three guys playing similar games. I appreciate Rafa's game on clay, especially when he's playing the way he played during the 2008/2010/2012 clay season. I always enjoys Rafa's aggressive play, for to me his aggressive game is the best and the hardest to beat(like his Wimbledon 2008/2010 finals), it's just that he couldn't play that way consistently enough but tends to fall back to playing defensive game once he couldn't sustain the aggression.

I enjoy Murray's game once he plays with varieties and flair, but not so much when he stays at the baseline and rally all day. Nole's top of his game level is simply awesome, hardly miss a thing, especially his paint the line tennis. It's just that when the three younger guys meet each other, they tend to play long tedious points instead of bringing out their most aggressive or most varied games against each other.

luckystar , 12/7/12 6:11 PM

Djokovic-Murray at the AO was my No. 2 by FAR. No other match (other than my No. 1) was even close to that in my opinion.
RickyDimon, 12/7/12 4:38 PM

Um, no. It was your No. 4 according to your own article above.


Conspirator , 12/7/12 6:32 PM

Couldn't agree more, luckystar. All 3 styles tend to be similar and sometimes it becomes boring. All recent Djoko-Rafa finals were really boring to me, and they played exactly the same tennis in all 4 different surfaces, which talks a little on how monotonous the surfaces are nowadays.

However, that Djokovic-Murray AO SF had something different, to me it was really nice played, despite that 4th set.

Emiliano55 , 12/7/12 6:33 PM

I think when Nadal retires (a reasonably long time in the future no doubt ;), then Nolandy or one of them at least might start shortening the points. They can often be samey when they play each other ofcourse but Andy is the one most often that will close things off with a trick shot of unexpected variation, although usually not before a lengthy rally. Who knows maybe even Nadal will start to introduce more variety off from the baseline to lengthen his carrer. Somethings gotta give on these ball bashing extravaganzas, and at the moment, its Rafa's knees.
I'm guessing he will just change his schedule to accomodate this stage of his career however.
Hardcourts + Djokovic rallies = Medical Problems, that much is clear.
So again the change is going to come from the top (as it did with Roger & then Rafa) & out of the 2 of them i think its going to be Andy that steers the game.
He has the most options and lendl is having that effect towards aggression & the FH side.
They should vary the courts a bit more again to instigate this.
Although not too fast as this is tiresome too.
Variety really is the spice of life isn't it?

Twinge , 12/7/12 6:40 PM

Ardee's No. 1 pick is same as mine.

Rafa over Nole FO final.


Conspirator , 12/7/12 6:47 PM

don't play dumb, Conspirator


RickyDimon , 12/7/12 6:47 PM

Nadal-Djokovic French Open final did not make my Top 10

RickyDimon , 12/7/12 6:48 PM

OK, I think I figured it out. You need to define who is on the TT "panel" at the outset.

What's you no. 1???Fed over Muzz at Wimby? That was a flawed (read indoor) setting.

Conspirator , 12/7/12 6:55 PM


If we are going to talk about variety then I think we have to bring the surfaces to the table too. Variety and styles of play relay on the surfaces. Since 2002 the surfaces had been suffering a continuous slowness that are still happening today. There were 2 waves of slowness, one in 2002 and another in 2007/2008.

The surfaces between 2003 and 2007 were slow compared to the 90s but you still had specialists, you still had serve and volley, you could still win a math with just your serve, you had some clay court specialists succeding on fast courts, you had to play different tennis on each surface, etc. I think it was a good and balanced point. But since 2007/2008 the continued slowness has been ridiculous. The blue clay at Madrid ended up being way more faster than AO and USO, for example. The AO from this year was ridiculous incredible slow, even Navratilova was amazed on that. And I have a lot of other examples but you get the point.

So, if we want players to start vary their games, we have to give them different surfaces and different speeds, not the monotonous slow surfaces we have nowadays.

Anyways, this could lead to a large discussion, but I think this is a key point to discuss if we want players to try different things. But the ATP doesn't care about this, they just want 2 rabbits running around the base for 5 hours because that's what the masses want. The masses doesn't want to see a 2 hour quality match, they prefer to sit and see a marathonic 5 hour match, no matter the quality of tennis they are seeing.

I have no doubt this will continue for the worst until a top player get a serious injury. That day I think they will realize they are, not only converting the game into a boring thing, but risking the players.

Emiliano55 , 12/7/12 7:03 PM

^^I agree.
Longer matches = more ad breaks I suppose.
Still the players have their part to play too on this for sure.
I'm thinking that the masses will get fed up with this at some point maybe even soon.

Twinge , 12/7/12 7:12 PM

how complicated is "Tennistalk panel" ????

if i was just talking about myself, I would have said "my" list

RickyDimon , 12/7/12 7:32 PM

It's not complicated at all. But you should say who had input to it.


Conspirator , 12/7/12 7:45 PM

Kelli, Cheryl, and I were among those who participated, but there were others


RickyDimon , 12/7/12 8:24 PM

It does thanks. You should have a follow up on each of the panel member's favourite and their respective takes on why.


Conspirator , 12/7/12 8:41 PM


RickyDimon , 12/7/12 8:54 PM


Conspirator , 12/7/12 9:13 PM

I had asked previously on another thread about the Djokovic/Nadal final, which some fans on other sites seem to think of as as epic. I didn't see it as being such, only lengthy. To date, there has never been a 6+ hour final at a GS.

Fed brings a lot of diversity to those matches he's played vs. the other top 3 players, due to his contrasting style. The other three top players have more or less the same style, whereby they can't seem to find a way to end the points early, but only when an error is drawn from the opponent to end the point.

Fed does not like long rallies and his frustraton is evident when he plays the other 3 guys. He tries to end the points quickly but is unsuccessful because more times than not he ends up with an UFE.

Judging by the amount of wear and tear the other 3 players put on their bodies from these ridiculously long rallies I doubt they would still be in the top 4 at the age of 31. Fed's style of effortless play and non-grinding out of of points is what has kept him more or less injury free and has increased his longevity on the tour.

I hope players such as Dimitrov and dologopolov, who have variety can start winning more and up their rankings, because whenever Fed retires it will be the type of pong tennis that we'll have to watch.

scoretracker , 12/8/12 12:17 AM

I don't agree with the wear and tear theory, judging from the fact that Nole hardly ever gets injured. Players like Haas, Gonzo, Nalby were all injured and undergone surgeries, are they also playing a style like Nole's for example? I don't think so.

Its not like Rafa, Nole or Murray couldn't end points quicker; they're able to do that vs other players. It's just that when playing against each other among the top four, they couldn't end points easily, all because the top fours guys are good at both defence and offence. The three younger guys in particular are all so good at ROS, hence it's difficult to score easy points against them. Fed himself was also good at defending, if not he won't be able to stay in the point against those three guys, given their speed and shotmaking abilities.

luckystar , 12/8/12 2:10 AM

Also, Rafa/Nole/Murray all come with varieities in their games, they're all better than Dmitrov and Dolgo. In fact in terms of shotmaking abilities and varieties in their game, they're better than anyone else except maybe Fed.

Like I said, their matches are boring only when they play against each other; I see Rafa vs Berdych, as in AO, Rome this year as very exciting matches, especially that Rome match. I see some Nole vs Delpo matches, for example, as interesting too because of contrast of styles. Murray vs Tsonga too was interesting, especially on grass, this and last year.

luckystar , 12/8/12 2:20 AM

Current ATP-rankings

1. Djokovic 12 500 pts
2. Murray 8 750 pts
3. Federer 8 670 pts
4. Ferrer 6 970 pts
5. Nadal 6 385 pts

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