Big opportunity for Djokovic, Murray

Jan. 29, 2011 at 4:52 AM
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MELBOURNE, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray meet Sunday for the Australian Open title in a rare Grand Slam men's final in which neither player is named Nadal or Federer.

Djokovic, No. 3 in the world, knocked off Roger Federer in straight sets in Thursday's semifinals, denying the world No. 2-ranked player a chance to defend his Australian Open title.

Murray, fifth in the world rankings, defeated David Ferrer in Friday's semifinal. Ferrer had advanced that far with a quarterfinal victory over Rafael Nadal, No. 1 in the world but hampered by a leg injury.

Between them Nadal, with eight, and Federer, with 10, have won 18 of the 20 Grand Slam titles since 2005. The only exceptions are the 2009 U.S. Open, in which Juan Martin del Porto won two tiebreakers in beating Federer in five sets, and the 2008 Australian Open, which Djokovic won, beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Whether the 2011 Australian Open final signals a true changing of the guard is in question but it is an important step for both Djokovic and Murray.

Djokovic has a 4-3 series record against Murray but Murray has taken the last three meetings.

Djokovic is seeking his second major tournament title while Murray, having lost to Federer twice in Grand Slams finals, is looking for his first. With Nadal and Federer out of the way, Sunday makes for a sterling opportunity for both.

"I want to win it again. I believe I can," Djokovic said after beating Federer.

"I'm going to make the most of the opportunity, for sure," Murray said Friday. "I'll get 110 percent

"Sunday's going to be very tough but I've been very focused on just playing my opponent and not getting ahead of myself."

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