Djokovic And Murray Play For History In Roland Garros 2016 Final
ATPWorldTour.com previews final action at Roland Garros
Top seed Novak Djokovic and second seed Andy Murray square off for the 34th time on tour in Sunday’s Roland Garros final, but this match arguably has the biggest implications out of all their meetings.
Djokovic is aiming to complete the career Grand Slam, becoming just the eighth man – and the fourth in the Open era – to accomplish that feat. A win on Sunday would also make him just the third man to hold all four majors at once (joining Rod Laver and Don Budge). Meanwhile, Murray is looking to become the first British winner at Roland Garros since Fred Perry in 1935.
"It's obviously a very big match for both of us. Neither of us know how many more chances we'll have to win here," said Murray. "We have had some really big battles in the Slams on all the other surfaces. I'm sure it will be the same again on Sunday."
Their paths to the final couldn’t be more different. Besides an opening-set blip in his fourth-round against No. 14 seed Roberto Bautista Agut, Djokovic hasn’t dropped a set and recorded dominant scorelines in several matches. Murray had to rally from two sets down to survive his opening round against qualifier Radek Stepanek, then found himself a set away from defeat again in the second round against French wild card Mathias Bourgue. Although he’s rounded into top form as the tournament has progressed, he still had to withstand stern tests from No. 9 seed Richard Gasquet in the quarter-finals and No. 3 seed Stan Wawrinka in the semi-finals.
The World No. 1 also has more experience in Grand Slam finals, heading into his 20th major final compared to 10 for Murray. Djokovic will make his fourth appearance in the Roland Garros final (having lost in 2012, 2014 and 2015), while Murray hadn’t made a final in Paris prior to this year.
Djokovic leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 23-10 and has won 12 of their last 14 matches. He holds a 7-2 record over Murray in Grand Slams, including a 4-2 record in Grand Slam finals. However, both of Murray’s Grand Slam wins came over Djokovic in the championship match. Their only career meeting at Roland Garros came last year, when the Serbian prevailed in a five-set semi-final.
Murray’s clay-court game has reached new levels in the last two years, though. The Brit entered the 2015 season with a 63-37 record on clay and no finals appearances. Since then, he has posted a 35-3 record and won three titles. He took Djokovic to three sets before losing their championship match last month at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Series event in Madrid, then avenged the loss on his birthday a week later with his first clay court victory over the Serbian in the Rome final.
"He's one of the most dedicated tennis players on tour. He always seeks to improve his game and get better," said Djokovic. "It's pretty nice that our rivalry has evolved over the years."
Having played their first match against each other when they were both 11 years old, the pair will know exactly what to expect when they take the court on Sunday. With little separating them in current form, the result may come down to who handles the occasion better.