After spending nearly four hours overcoming the 25-year-old Canadian power server Milos Raonic in five sets in the second semi-final here on Friday, the world No2 was left with less than 36 hours to prepare for his fifth attempt to win the Australian title, having also lost to Roger Federer in 2010.
But he was upbeat and confident, even though Djokovic is in the form of his life and coming off an impressive win in four sets over Federer in the first semi-final the night before.
“I need to do it for long enough to have a chance, I’m aware of that,” Murray said. “I don’t think many people are expecting me to win on Sunday. I just have to believe in myself.”
His coach, Amélie Mauresmo, is a believer, obviously.
“I think he still believes that he can lift the trophy here on the last day in this tournament,” she said. “Definitely Novak is playing some great tennis for a year now – and still in this tournament. Even though he had a tough fourth round against [Gilles] Simon, he then regrouped pretty well against Kei [Nishikori] and against Roger. So it’s a very big task for Andy. But he believes he can do it, and we will try to find a way.”
She described Murray’s fightback against Raonic as “incredible”, adding: “He was in a bit of trouble out there and Milos definitely improved a lot. His serve was really hard. As the match was going on he was reading it better and better.
“But he never gives up. That’s basically what happened tonight and in the fifth set he was able to physically and mentally get over Milos. But it was a tough one.”
Mauresmo said Murray had endured a lot of pain and anguish during the week, after his father-in-law, Nigel Sears, had collapsed in the stands and was detained in hospital in Melbourne for tests, before being allowed to fly home to the UK last Monday.
“Definitely it was a bit complicated for him, and he handled it very well – as well as he could, I guess. As the week was going on, he was a bit calmer and less stressed.”
She said three previous defeats by Djokovic in Melbourne finals and one loss to Federer would have been hard for Murray to take, “but it didn’t break him”.
She added: “Now he comes back even stronger each time, believing that he can do it. He’s been in the last spot a few times and he’s really putting a lot of effort to try to get the trophy on Sunday.”
Leon Smith, who has known Murray since he coached him as a teenager and captained him in Great Britain’s historic Davis Cup victory over Belgium, said he has no worries about Murray’s fitness or energy levels, even though Djokovic will have had an extra day to rest.
“That is why he trains so hard,” Smith said. “He has got so much experience of having to come through semis and play finals in slams. That is what he does. That is what he has been doing for the last decade. He has certainly got the physical capabilities to come out on Sunday and fight for everything.
“But he is going to have to play great. He is going to have to execute everything he will talk to Amélie about – and they will have a good gameplan. It is the two best players in the world coming to play each other again. I think it is great.”
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