As a British national I am really hoping that Andy Murray gets the monkey off his back, which rather unfairly at this early stage of his career, he seems to have inherited from "good old Tim" and wins a Grand Slam event.
Having said that, I was still pleased that Roger Federer won his semi this morning, so that if Murray does win through, the "doubters" will have little comeback and it will be all the more satisfying to claim a first major against one of the all time greats of the game. Also, we can get better odds !
Murray was trading at circa 2.18 at this time yesterday and now is freely available at 2.50 +and after Federer's masterclass win over JWF, these odds might drift still further. In my book, Fed-Ex is the narrowest of favourites and at the odds offered, Murray is good value.
The Scot has had an extra days rest, infact he will have had two clear days to relax and prepare for the final, which is obviously the biggest match of his career so far. Nerves might play a part, but he has looked supremely confident so far and is as well prepared as it is possible for any sportsman to be.
Murray is a smart guy, he has a very good team of coaches around him and they have fine tuned his prep for this event, including taking the very brave decision to miss out on the early season Doha event. I say brave because he finished runner up there in 2007 and won the title in both 08 and 09, he would have received lots of pressure and big money offers to go and try for a hat-trick of wins, but choose to concentrate on this event and arrived very early in Melbourne. His team have rented a property this time, instead of staying in a hotel and last night was the first time they have eaten out, prefering to stay in each evening and focus.
The AO often signals a new start, I know it comes only a few weeks after the end of the last season, but performances here usually bear a direct correlation to how much off season work players have put in and it is clear, even to a blind man, that Murray has done a LOT !
He has expended minimum energy in getting to the final, dropping just the one set and playing mostly in the cool of the evening.
I have discussed the fact that few players win first time out in a Grand Slam final and the Scot will have learned a lot from his US Open final in 2008 when he lost in three sets, collecting just nine games. However, he went into that match mentally and physically exhausted after playing three consecutive rounds in as many days, due to bad weather, the last two of those were against Nadal and del Potro, leaving Murray with nothing in the tank.
He is one of the very few players on tour with a winning record against the world number one, leading 6-4 overall and 4-2 on outdoor hardcourts. It will not be easy, but Murray could not be in better health, including between the ears and is a very generous price IMO.
6 points Murray to beat Federer 2.52 ++.