A solemn Novak Djokovic will look for positives from his previous clashes at Melbourne Park...
A solemn Novak Djokovic will look for positives from his previous clashes at Melbourne Park after playing arguably his worst match of the tournament in edging a mentally “dead” Stan Wawrinka in five sets on Friday.
The top-seeded Serb blew hot and cold in the 7-6(1) 3-6 6-4 4-6 6-0 semi-final victory, squandering a winning position in the fourth set and being fortunate that the defending champion was also out-of-sorts on a cool and breezy night at Rod Laver Arena.
Djokovic will meet sixth seed Andy Murray in his fifth final at Melbourne Park but is unlikely to glean inspiration from a video review of the match against Wawrinka, who later described himself as “mentally completely dead” with “no battery”.
“I can say I’m glad, of course I’m happy and satisfied to go through,” Djokovic told reporters, devoid of his usual good humour.
“I’m proud of the fighting spirit that I had. But the level of performance was not where I wanted it to be.
“You have days when things aren’t going your way.
“I think I have much more positive things to reflect on in my game and then all the matches that I played so far in the tournament than the negative.
“I’m in the finals. In the end of the day, that’s why I’m here, to try to get far in the tournament.
“Getting to the finals in any way possible is a great achievement. I’m going to try to use that for build up of the confidence for finals.”
Djokovic will take some comfort from the fact that he has had Murray’s measure at the year’s first grand slam, beating him in the 2011 and 2013 finals.
Murray, who also lost to Roger Federer in the 2010 title-decider, will contest his fourth final in Melbourne after a brilliant demolition of hard-hitting Czech Tomas Berdych in the first semi-final on Thursday.
Djokovic said he was happy to see Murray, his old friend and fellow 27-year-old, back in a grand slam final after a barren season in the majors last year.
“Sure. He deserves to be there. With the game that he has, he has a winning mindset,” Djokovic said of the Scot.
“He’s a great fighter, great competitor, and somebody that commits to this sport. You can see that on a daily basis. He has a great team of people around him. He puts a lot of hours in the practice, gym, so forth.
“It pays off. I know him for a long time, so it’s great we are able to challenge each other now in another grand slam final.”