Murray's pain game

US Open champion knows what it takes to win a Slam — and it hurts. Today he will once again look within himself, seeking a final step to glory

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The Independent Online

Andy Murray is expecting to suffer pain when he faces Novak Djokovic here today in the Australian Open final – and as far as the 25-year-old Scot is concerned the more pain the better.

"I hope that's the case because that will mean it's a close match," Murray said as he looked forward to his third consecutive Grand Slam final. "Our game styles mean we play a lot of long rallies and close points. Both of us return very well and it's tough to get free points on serve. Every time we played last year they were really tough matches."

Djokovic and Murray met twice in Grand Slam play last year. Both were five-set marathons. Djokovic's victory in the semi-finals here took four hours and 50 minutes, which was four minutes less than Murray needed to beat the Serb in the US Open final.

Murray took four hours and five sets to beat Roger Federer in their semi-final here on Friday night, after which he said he would take painkillers and anti-inflammatories before going to bed. "When I wake up in the morning I'm sore," he said.

Djokovic is also expecting a major physical test. "Probably our last six or seven encounters have all been long matches, physically very demanding, going three sets and five sets in Grand Slams," the world No 1 said. "I guess we have to expect something similar to happen – long rallies – and I'm ready for that."

Murray, aiming to become the first man for 57 years to follow up his maiden Grand Slam singles title with victory in the next Slam, spent yesterday recovering before practising in the evening. He has had one day less than Djokovic to prepare for the final, though the Serb does not believe this will be a factor. "He's considered as one of the physically strongest and fittest guys around," Djokovic said. "I'm sure he's going to be fit for the final."