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Australian Open: Keys to victory in men's singles final

Novak Djokovic has beaten Andy Murray seven straight times on hard courts. Will Murray end that run and win his first Australian Open crown?

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Here are the keys to victory in Sunday's final.

Murray's mindset
Like Wawrinka, Murray has taken the scalp of Djokovic at majors. Unlike Wawrinka, Murray has twice done it to the Serb in major finals. But like Wawrinka again, Djokovic's response to his loss to Murray in the 2012 US Open decider was to beat him in their resultant seven hard-court match-ups. Murray has the weapons, defence and tactics to beat Djokovic on the surface, but does he believe he can do it again on the big stage?

Djokovic's game plan
He did not so much as win his semi-final against Stan Wawrinka as he did not lose it. A notably meek performance from the Serbian, he simply crushed Wawrinka in the mental battle - and the defending champion finally felt the weight of expectation. Djokovic will be keen to dictate more against Murray, but he will also have periods of preservation mid-match - Murray has to be wary not to mistake it for fatigue.

Murray's return
The Scotsman has the most returns of serve landing in the court all tournament - 81 per cent. Djokovic has been serving at 67 per cent, and winning 81 per cent of points behind his first ball. Spelt out, the onus is firmly on the Serb's shoulders to put out another high-quality service performance. Strangely, he lost five of the first six break points he faced against Wawrinka - three via unforced errors. You can't give Murray that many presents twice - Djokovic saved 12 of 16 break points in their US Open quarter-final last year - and escape.

The weather
Twenty-one degrees and 50 per cent of chance of rain during the day, the weather probably leans in favour of the Scot. Not merely for it making him feel right at home, but to further enable his defensive tendencies. It's hard enough getting a winner past Murray - Djokovic's winner-to-error ratio in the 2013 final at Melbourne Park was 47:61 - but the lack of heat will slow the ball down even further. While the Serb still won on that occasion - it was 23 degrees and sunny - any reduction in warmth should hand Murray a slight upper-hand.

Djokovic's defence
He's as fit and unpassable as Murray without as many plaudits about it. But Djokovic's defensive game seemed to be lacking a little tang on Thursday against Wawrinka - maybe it was out of practice after barely being tested in his first five matches of the tournament, with the Swiss' woeful finish making Djokovic the near default victor. Djokovic will want to be making Murray make as many balls as the Scot will to him. Djokovic is returning at 68 per cent, which means Murray will be getting many more free points on serve than the number one seed. Interestingly, Murray has been involved in 180 rallies lasting nine or more shots this event, Djokovic only 121. Will fresh legs (Djokovic) or warmed-up ones (Murray) prevail? Time will tell.

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