Forty-eight hours after Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic sat together to watch their countries play a goalless draw in a World Cup qualifier, the 25-year-old friends and rivals will do battle here today with one of their own sport's greatest prizes at stake. The Scot and the Serb, who first faced each other at an Under-12s tournament in the south of France 14 years ago, will meet in the US Open final.
Murray and Djokovic, who watched Saturday's match between Scotland and Serbia on a computer before the Scot's semi-final victory over Tomas Berdych, have met twice before in Grand Slam tournaments, with the Serb winning on both occasions. Murray, however, won their most recent encounter, in the Olympics semi-final last month.
"I have had some tough losses against him, but also had some big highs against him as well," Murray said. "Obviously it will be an unbelievably tough match. He moves very well on the hard courts. He's a top, top player, one of the best that's played."
Djokovic, who reached the final here for the third year in succession by beating David Ferrer yesterday in his delayed semi-final, has won 27 matches in a row at Grand Slam tournaments on hard courts but said there would be "no clear favourite" today.
"Most of our matches that we played against each other were very close, and only small margins decide the winner," Djokovic said. "That's something that is expected in a way, because we have similar games.
"We are big rivals and we have been at the top of the men's game for a long time, so we know each other really well. The last match he won against me was in the Olympic Games. That was also a close one. But this is a different surface and different tactics apply, so we'll see."