Djokovic and Murray prepare to bring the pain

Sat Jan 26, 2013 3:21am EST
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray's burgeoning grand slam rivalry turns another page on Sunday, with the two iron-men of tennis bracing for a world of pain when they clash in the final of the Australian Open.

Although good friends off the court dating back to their junior days, the two 25-year-olds hold no quarter once they cross the white lines, and have made a habit of punishing each other in grueling five-set duels at the grand slams.

Briton Murray lost a near-five hour battle to eventual champion Djokovic in the semi-finals last year, but avenged the defeat in a five-set thriller to win the U.S. Open and his maiden grand slam title.

"I hope it's a painful match because that will mean it's a good one," Murray told the centre court crowd after grinding down Roger Federer in five sets in the semi-final.

Double defending champion Djokovic, who played the longest ever grand slam final against Rafa Nadal last year, has also resigned himself to an attritional slog to capture his third Melbourne Park title in a row.

"Considering the fact that every time we played in last probably six, seven encounters, it was always a long matches, physically very demanding, going three sets and five sets in grand slams," the world number one told reporters.

"So I guess we have to expect something similar to happen, long rallies, and I'm ready for that."

Both have a chance to write themselves into history.   Continued...

Andy Murray of Britain hits a return during a practice session at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 26, 2013. Murray will play against Novak Djokovic of Serbia in the men's singles final match on Sunday. REUTERS/Toby Melville