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Few would argue with defending champion Novak Djokovic's dissection that the gulf in talent between the top four and the rest is significant. With Federer eliminated early and Nadal not playing, one would have thought that this was the perfect opportunity for the rest to make a mark, and while Tomas Berdych did reach the semis, he couldn't overcome the in-form Andy Murray.
As Murray takes stance against Djokovic at the biggest tennis arena in the world – The Arthur Ashe Stadium, the stage is set for the Scot to capture his first major. While most believe that the destiny of this match depends more on what Djokovic does tonight, TennisEarth on the other hand believes in the contrary.
While the defending champion remains the favorite to retain his crown, Murray controls his own destiny. The Olympic champion said that he is coming “closer” after his defeat to Roger Federer in the final of Wimbledon and it would not be a surprise if it is Murray who comes out on top tonight. The win to end Briton's Grand Slam drought since 1936 however, will not come easy. The third seed will have to strategize well and work accordingly.
First – The third seed must stay proactive. It is a must for the Scot as he has the tendency to go on the defensive against big hitters very quickly. He needs to control as many rallies as possible and test the Serb's endurance when moved side to side.
Second – Exploit the Djokovic serve. If there is anything that the Scot has over the Serb in this match, it is the serve. Novak's second serve has especially looked suspect at times this season.
Third - Self Belief. That is something that has let the Scot down previously too, and tonight presents a huge opportunity for him to redeem himself. With that confidence, and the crowd's backing Murray will definitely pose a threat.
Murray has a 25-5 win loss record on hard courts this year.
On the other side, the game is quite simple for Novak. He just has to do what he's always done against Murray – attack the forehand. That forehand is the biggest chunk in the Scot's armour and he must exploit it. Djokovic says that there is no clear favorite tonight, but deep down he knows it is him who has the most to lose.
The Serb has a lot going for him, he is the form player apart from the fact that he has the experience of 5 previous Grand Slam wins. And what's more, Djokovic's record on hard courts also stands out. Novak has never failed to make the semis of the US Open since 2006, and has won his last two matches against Federer at the Arthur Ashe. Also, the World No.2 has won 4 out of his 5 majors on the court and it is something that his rivals should be wary of. This year too Novak has already won two out of the four hard court Masters events to add to the season opening Australian Open. To add to it all, the Serb has a 35-3 hard court record this year.
Djokovic also leads their head to head record by 8 to 6. On the hard courts it is even closer as Djokovic leads by 6 matches to 5. Their last meeting however was won by Murray at the Olympics.
With only hours to go before the action kicks off at Flushing Meadows, the odds are tantalizingly poised.
Will the Serb retain his title? Or will it Murray finally put an end to a nation's 76 year wait? Lets not forget that Lendl also won his first final after four Grand Slam final heart-breaks.
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