Nick's Picks will be breaking down the Sony Ericsson Open everyday! Follow along for predictions, picks, and insight into the tournament on the blog and on TennisWeek.com.
Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. Andy Murray (GBR)
Murray has now reached the finals of four out of the last five ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments, including two weeks ago at Indian Wells. This is his first appearance in the finals of the Sony Ericsson Open and if he wins it will be his third title of 2009. In fact, Murray has lost only twice all season: in the finals of Indian Wells and in the fourth round of the Australian Open.
After dropping the opening set to Federer in the semis, Djokovic then went on to win 10 of the next 12 games, winning the second set and opening up a 4-0 lead in the third set. Federer, clearly frustrated by his own play, even broke a racket in a very un-Federer like moment. Djokovic is looking to win this title for the second time in three years after beating Guillermo Canas in the finals back in 2007.
Djokovic is 4-2 against Murray, but the Scot has won the last two times they have played. Back in 2007, Djokovic beat Murray in the semis en route to his crown here. This is going to be one heck of a match because both men are playing fantastic tennis right now. There is no one else like Murray on the tour. He is incredibly clever, he hits with great variety, and he is extremely consistent. He can hit the big serve, he can play offensive and defensive tennis, and he anticipates extremely well. Basically, Murray can do it all!!
As good as Murray is, Djokovic is right there with him. In fact, I would say that Djokovic probably hits with more power than Murray, but he doesn't have the defensive game that Murray has. Djokovic has the killer forehand and excellent two-handed backhand and can cover the court as well as anyone.
In this match, Djokovic is going to have to attack and be very aggressive. Every single defensive ball that he gets he needs to put away immediately. The longer the rallies go, the more it favors Murray and Djokovic cannot just keep the ball in play and expect to win. This match is going to be played during the day, and we know what kind of issues Djokovic has had with conditioning in the heat in the past. This is something to keep your eye on the longer the match goes. These men are pretty evenly matched, but right now I feel Murray just has the confidence and the winning look. I have to give the slightest of edges to Murray.
Nick's Pick - Murray in 3 sets