Thriding

Month: January, 2013

Why the result of the AO 2013 final (probably) won’t mean anything

General form at the start of 2013

Murray’s run to this final has been more impressive than that to the last US Open final. Although he had a tough match against Federer, he was purposeful throughout; one can’t complain about someone needing five sets to get past someone with Federer’s pedigree. In terms of calmness and focus on court he is looking more like the player who won the gold medal at the Olympics than he did in New York.

Djokovic too is in a better place mentally now than last September. After the French Open final to a degree he went awol, losing semis at both Wimbledon and the Olympics. It was only in the latter stages of the USO that that Djokovic began to re-emerge as the player of 2011-to-early-2012. The autumn saw him consolidate this, and by the YEC he was back to being dominant.

At Djokovic rose to pre-eminence during the autumn, Murray to a slight degree unravelled, but it seems that during the off-season he has regained his focus.

Conditions for this match

As Djokovic’s record here shows, this court is definitely one of his favourites, and there shouldnt be anything in the conditions to bother him. This is Murray’s third final here he too clearly likes it here. He is finding the court to be a touch faster this year and at the moment his winners are going through harder.

Conclusion

I think this match will be closer than people are predicting. The odds are favouring Djokovic roughly 2:1. I feel its more likely to be 5:4 to Djokovic. Thus, unless Murray comprehensively outplays Djokovic, a Murray win should not surprise us – nor should it be taken to mean anything dramatic: Murray edging out Djokovic is within the margin for error. Equally, assuming Murray plays roughly to same level that he did against Federer, his losing to Djokovic won’t mean anything: Djokovic is the dominant player at the moment, and his beating Murray in the close match we expect wouldn’t indicate that Murray has reverted to the player who lost his first nine sets in slam finals.

The most surprising result this match could throw up would be a straight sets victory.

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Dimitrov at the start of 2013

As of the start of 2013, Grigor Dimitrov is ranked 48, which is his highest ever ranking. In August 2011 he was ranked 52, but in March 2012 he momentarily dropped out of the top 100.

Over half of his 866 ranking points come from five 2012 tournaments, each of which earnt him 90 points:

  • R16 at the Miami Masters (March)
  • SF at Queens 250 (June)
  • SF at Bastad 250 (July)
  • SF at Gstaad (July)
  • QF at Basel Indoor 500 (October)

He also won R64 matches at Paris and Shanghai in the latter part of the year. In the Grand Slams, he didn’t get beyond the R64, getting a W-L of 3-4.

A year ago he was losing in the Q2 at the Sydney 250; this week he is making good progress through the draw at Brisbane: he beat Brian Baker 6-3 7-6, then upset the 2nd seed, Raonic, 6-3 6-4 and by beating Melzer 6-3 6-2 reached the SF, where he’ll play Baghdatis.

With his ranking in the top 50 he will not only have the opportunity to defend his Miami points, put pick up more in Indian Wells, Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome before he reaches the time of year when he’ll be defending the bulk of his existing points. He only has 216 points to defend in the 2013 up to Roland Garros. He also had a poor summer in the US: he lost Q1 in both Cincinnati and Toronto and lost in the first round of the US Open to Benoit Paire.

One of my three wishes for 2013 was that a talented young player like Dimitrov would learn how to win consistently, and become a genuine threat. In the final post-US Open portion of 2012 he beat 4 players ranked above him: Andujar, Troicki, Benneteau and Melzer, and only once lost to a player ranked beneath him, Mathieu, in the Basel QFs. That, combined with the good start he’s making in Brisbane, suggests that, at the age of 21, Dimitrov is finally making the next step up.

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