Novak Djokovic V Andy Murray at 08:30 live on Eurosport & BBC2
The men’s singles final concludes the Australian Open and it is without doubt that the two best players in the event have made it to this stage.
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Both players won their first five matches in straight sets, but Murray advanced from his semi-final with Tomas Berdych dropping just one set, whilst Djokovic required five sets to dispatch defending champion Stan Wawrinka.
Ordinarily, following a five-set victory, the victor frequently struggles in the next round, due to extra physical demands that a five set match brings. However, there are several factors why this should not have a big impact on Djokovic.
Firstly, he is arguably the fittest player on tour, and secondly, with a 6-0 final set, his victory over Wawrinka lasted 210 minutes – a mere four minutes more than Murray’s triumph over Berdych (206 minutes).
Djokovic has a combined 4.4% edge on the hold/break stats, holding significantly more (89.1%) than Murray (82.3%) on hard court in the last 12 months. Murray (33.3%) breaks more than Djokovic (30.9%), however.
This 4.4% edge would make Murray some value at just over 3.00 in the market, but for this match we need to make further adjustments to model prices.
Djokovic has a dominant 15-8 head to head lead, and in Grand Slams, he has won 4 of their 5 clashes, with Murray’s five set victory in the final of the US Open his solitary win. Djokovic has also won eight of their last nine head to head matches. Clearly this history is highly significant and must be accounted for.
This is also the case for both players’ historical Grand Slam final records. Djokovic, for a player that has been world number one for a considerable time over the last three years, would probably be disappointed with a 7-7 career record, but that still eclipses Murray’s 2-5 record. Fitness and mentality are probably the key reasons why he has this edge.
These adjustments to my original model price changed my price on Djokovic to 1.33, making the current 1.50 some value.
Not even accounted for is the fact that Murray has an awful record in the last 12 months when priced over 3.00, losing all seven of those matches. Djokovic claimed four of those victories. All Murray’s five defeats (from seven matches) priced over 3.00 in Grand Slams have come via a 6 games margin, or bigger. These statistics support the argument that in big matches against elite opponents, he almost always comes up short.
Historically Djokovic’s head to head matches over Murray have featured a high percentage of dominant set wins for the Serb, and even in best of three set matches, Djokovic has won by a minimum of 3 games in six from seven wins since Murray broke into the top ten (mean 4.29 game margin).
My model price, and this data, gives us confidence we can back Djokovic to cover a reasonable game handicap margin for this clash. I feel the 4.5 game line at 2.20 looks a good option, although I wouldn’t put readers of 5.5 games either at 2.71. The historical data illustrates that if Djokovic is to claim the title in Melbourne, he will do it by a decent game handicap margin.
Recommendation: Back Djokovic -4.5 games at 2.00
Price correct at the time of writing