Andy's latest "The Australian" column
AS there is only a few hours now until my Australian Open final against Novak Djokovic, I thought I’d share a few insights into my preparation for the match and what I learnt from my two big matches against him last year, the first in a semi-final in Melbourne and the other one, obviously, in New York.
But first a memory from the US Open final last September that might give some of you a bit of a laugh. It’s something only the eagle-eyed might have noticed and when I look back now, I still shake my head but given the result, all is well that ends well.
When I was serving for the US title against Novak and leading 30-0, I was deep in the zone, thinking about where to put my first serve, hoping I’d get a free point out of Novak, that’s something that doesn’t happen very often. Decision made, I walked up to the baseline, bounced the ball and … realised I was about to serve to the wrong side of the court, this at the biggest moment of my career. You’d think I’d have known better after 20 years or so of playing! It actually had nothing to do with nerves, even though I was serving for my first grand slam title. As I said at the time, because I had built it up so much in my head, thought so much about being in the position to win a slam, I didn’t actually feel that nervous!
I just think it is all to do with being so much in the zone and while I haven’t done it too much, I watch a lot of matches and it does happen to other players. I was watching Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in his match against Roger a few nights before our semi-final and he went to walk to the chair when it was only 2-all. It’s very weird!
Now to what I hope will be a good omen for tonight’s final against Novak. If any of you watched either the US Open final or my semi-final against Roger the other night, you may have noticed a familiar face in the stands. A few actors, like Will Ferrell, are really big tennis fans and it turns out that Kevin Spacey is another. He must be, given this Tweet from the other night – “Congrats @Andy_Murray for his win! Can’t wait for Sunday night – Flew to Melbourne to watch. Awesome game!”. Kevin starred in one of my favourite films of all time, The Usual Suspects, where he played the criminal mastermind Keyser Soze.
Now to the final. Since my win over Roger on Friday night, I have focused all my energy on preparing for the final. It was great to beat Roger for the first time in a grand slam but knowing the job wasn’t complete, I headed straight to an ice bath before completing my media obligations. I didn’t leave Melbourne Park till about 2am, so it was a late night.
The plan yesterday was to sleep for as long as possible before going about further recovery. On waking up, I had a full breakfast, toast, a fruit platter, some yoghurt and then headed to the pool for a swim and a massage to loosen up the body. It doesn’t matter how fit you are, after a match like the one I had with Roger, you are going to wake up a little sore. But that’s why I’ve got my great team here.
Lunch was dinner and rice then a little more stretching and massage, but mostly I tried not to expend too much energy. I had a very light practice, only about 30 minutes or so, later in the day before dinner and then to stay up as long as I could last night. Because the final is played at night, you don’t want to go to bed early otherwise your body clock will be slowing down right at key moments in the final. Before going to the courts today, I’ll have another proper breakfast and lunch to keep the body fuelled, with my last meal about 90 minutes before we go on to the court.
I’m really looking forward to the final. My results over the last year show I’ve played my best tennis in the big matches, the slam finals and the Olympics. It doesn’t mean you are going to win every time but there is not much more you can do than that.
The thing that changes from winning big matches is that you have that extra bit of belief when you go out on the court. I think the thing with Roger and Rafa and then Novak over the past five or six years is that they have kept setting the bar at new levels and it has been up to the rest to catch up and I think I have done a good job with that.
Last year, when I played Novak here in a semi-final, that match was important for the rest of my career because it proved to me how close I was to breaking through if I improved a few small things.
It is obviously going to be tough and this might sound strange, but I hope am feeling in pain late on Sunday because that will mean I am right in the final. With our game styles, we play a lot of long points and have long rallies and we both return very well, so it is very tough to get free points.
Every time we played last year, it was incredibly close and very, very long matches. I wouldn’t expect anything different tonight but I’m aiming to come out on top!Thanks for that xxdanixx very interesting.http://www.andymurray.com/news-and-blog/andys-latest-column-the-australian-5/