Tennis

Novak Djokovic, right, is chasing his first French Open title.

Novak Djokovic believes he has slight mental edge over Andy Murray

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Football News
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Novak Djokovic feels he has a slight mental edge over Andy Murray heading into their French Open final battle.

Both men are bidding for their first title at Roland Garros but all the other numbers favour Djokovic.

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He has won 11 grand slam titles to Murray's two, is in his fourth French Open final compared to his opponent's first and leads their head-to-head 23-10.

Djokovic's dominance over a man born just a week earlier, who he first played when he was 11, has increased markedly since Murray's Wimbledon triumph in 2013.

Djokovic has won 12 of their last 14 matches, beating Murray in the Australian Open final the last two years and in the semi-finals here 12 months ago.

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But Djokovic's respect for Murray is obvious and he knows, if he is finally to grasp the Coupe des Mousquetaires, it will not come easily.

"I think he's one of the most dedicated tennis players on the tour," said Djokovic. "He always seeks to improve his game and get better, which I do, too.

"So I think looking at our history of the first time we played against each other when we were 11 years old all the way until now, if we knew back then that we were going to fight for the biggest trophies in this sport, I think we would both sign the document. It's pretty nice that our rivalry has evolved over the years.

"I don't think that there is any particular advantage to my side. I think mentally, when we step on the court, sure, maybe to some extent, some small percentage, but he's playing in great form.

" Let's see. It's another grand slam title up for grabs for both Andy and myself. One thing for sure that I know that I can expect when I get on the court with him is it's going to be a very physical battle."

Last year's five-set loss to Djokovic in the semi-finals was another sign that Murray was now the real deal on clay.

The Scot came into the French Open with the highest winning percentage of anyone on what was formerly his weakest surface after beating Djokovic to win his second clay Masters title in Rome.

What is certain is there will be no secrets on the court. Only Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have played more times in slam finals than Murray and Djokovic, who will meet for the seventh time.

The unknown factor is how both men, but particularly Djokovic, will deal with the occasion and what is at stake.

The 29-year-old has been so close to winning this title so many times and the significance of the last leg of his career Grand Slam has grown with every passing year.

Should Djokovic win, he would not only complete his set of trophies, he would also become the first man in 24 years to win the first two slams in a year and the first since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four at the same time.

Djokovic has always denied that winning here has become an obsession, but the tension he has shown in his biggest matches at Roland Garros tells a different story.

He said: "I've put myself in a position I wanted to be in of course ever since last year's final. I was hoping that the clay-court season would be successful in the other tournaments, but mostly in this one.

"It's always high on the priority list when I start a season thinking about Roland Garros, and to be able to reach the final is really special. I've given myself another opportunity to win the trophy."

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Topics:
Novak Djokovic
Tennis
French Open
Andy Murray

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