Andy Murray v Novak Djokovic: The Great Battle Resumes After A Five-Year Hiatus

The modern greats face each other on Thursday for the first time since 2017
14:05, 04 May 2022

It has been five years in the making. Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic go to battle once again on Thursday in the Round of 16 at the Madrid Open in a clash between two players who have been through varying travails since they last met on court as the world’s number one and two male tennis players.

It was in 2017 that the pair last faced off in the final of the Qatar Open in Doha. Djokovic was the champion on that occasion while Murray remained at the top of the ATP World Rankings, and it is quite hard to comprehend just how long we have had to wait for this rematch between two of this generation’s biggest stars.

When you think of these two greats, you think back to that historic Wimbledon final in 2013 when Murray claimed his first victory at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, following up his first Grand Slam title at the US Open the year before. It’ll soon be nine years since the match which saw Murray was at the height of his power as he defeated the Serbian star in straight sets 6-4, 7-5, 6-4. It was one of those great British sporting moments in which everyone can remember where they were when Murray became the King of Wimbledon. 

A lot has changed for both players ahead of their 37th career meeting on Thursday. For Murray, his constant hip problems led to him having surgery twice, causing him to be absent from court for a long time and sadly he’s not the player he once was. As for Djokovic, we all know he’s gone on to win multiple titles, with his Grand Slam total currently standing at 20. But following his stance towards vaccination following the Covid-19 pandemic his rhythm has been disrupted, not least when he was held in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open before being denied entry due to his vaccination status.

DJOKOVIC WAS DEPORTED BY AUSTRALIAN AUTHORITIES IN JANUARY
DJOKOVIC WAS DEPORTED BY AUSTRALIAN AUTHORITIES IN JANUARY

His 2022 season as a result has been turbulent to say the least. He has only been able to feature in four tournaments thus far, including the Madrid Open. The world No. 1 has only reached one final and that was on home soil in the Serbia Open, but he was defeated by Andrey Rublev. He has only played 10 competitive matches this season with a record of 6-4. This lack of action will provide Murray a great chance to progress to the last eight as well as claim the bragging rights in this long-standing rivalry. Murray still believes he will “have no chance” of beating the number-one seed due to his metal hip.

The Scotsman should be boosted by his victory in the last round, when he was able to get revenge against Canadian Denis Shapovalov for his Wimbledon exit last summer. He also demonstrated some excellent tennis in a three-set thriller. The 34-year-old had too much for top-20 seed Shapovalov in the deciding set, almost as if he was channelling the versions of himself that won this tournament back in 2008 and 2015.

He will no doubt face a tough test in his Serbian adversary but given he has featured more regularly on the circuit this term (12 matches more to be exact), he may have a slight edge in this contest even if he doesn’t fancy his chances.

Previewing this latest meeting with Djokovic, Murray said: "In theory I shouldn't have a chance in the match, but I've put myself in a great position. I worked extremely hard in the last five or six weeks to get myself here and it's a fantastic opportunity to play against him again on a huge court in a big tournament. I've got my game in good shape.

"My movement has been so much better than where it was at the beginning of the year and it makes a huge difference to my whole game. It allows me to make different decisions on the court. I'll have a fantastic attitude in the match, give it my best and see where I'm at."

It might not be Murray v Djokovic at the height of their powers, but this one will be no less engrossing.

MURRAY 9/2 TO BEAT DJOKOVIC - BETFRED*

*18+ | BeGambleAware

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