IVAN LENDL told Andy Murray before last year's US Open final against Novak Djokovic to be ready for pain.Tomorrow, when he faces the world No.1 for the Australian Open title, in what will be the Scot's third straight grand slam final and his sixth overall, Murray says he will be prepared for more of the same.
"Every time we play each other, it's normally a very physical match," Murray said after seeing off Roger Federer 6-4, 6-7, 6-3, 6-7, 6-2 yesterday in an intense semi-final.
"He's an unbelievable mover and we have so many long rallies so I'll need to be ready for pain. I hope it's a painful match because that means it will be a good one. There's no other way to do it. You can't just blast through him, he's too quick for that. I just have to take my chances when I get them."
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Murray and Djokovic battered each other in the semi-finals here last year, with the Serb coming out on top 7-5 in the final set of a match that lasted almost five hours.
Djokovic will have an extra day to recover ahead of tomorrow's match, having beaten David Ferrer in straight sets on Thursday.
However, having breezed through his first five rounds without dropping a set, Murray is convinced he will be ready for the match – and, potentially, another marathon.
"You never know how you're going to feel the next day," he said at a press conference where he almost seemed to be trying to conserve energy while delivering his answers.
"I'm sure I'll be tired tomorrow, and stiff and sore, so I need to make sure I sleep as long as possible tonight, do all of the recovery stuff. I'll hit very little tomorrow, I would have thought. You just try your best to be in the best possible condition. Realistically, you're probably not going to feel perfect because of the way the match went tonight, but it's not to say you can't recover well enough to play your best tennis."
The final will be Murray's first as a grand slam champion, just four months after he beat Djokovic in five sets in New York to become the first British man to win a grand slam title for 76 years.
Having lost to Federer in the final at Wimbledon, he bounced back brilliantly to win the Olympic gold medal and then the US Open and Murray said that experience should stand him in good stead when he takes on his old friend Djokovic.
"I hope it helps," he said. "I'm sure if I get myself into a position to win, maybe it will be easier than it was at the US Open, for example, or even Wimbledon last year.
"But to get into that position I'm going to have to play an unbelievable match and I'm going to have to make sure I recover well because that was four hours and that's a long match.
"I've been questioned for large parts of my career about physically would I be strong enough, mentally would I be strong enough, do I listen to my coaches, blah, blah, blah, can I handle pressure?
"I think those years of having all of those questions, and then finally to be able to answer them, was all part of the process.
"I hope I can play a good match. Obviously, having won against Novak before in a slam final will help me mentally."
Murray's victory over Federer was also his first over the Swiss in their four grand slam meetings, another mental hurdle overcome for the Scot as he tries to close the gap on Federer and Djokovic in the world rankings.
"It's satisfying, obviously," Murray said of beating the Swiss. "I've obviously lost some tough matches against him in slams.
"So to win one, especially the way that it went tonight, was obviously nice. I'm sure both of us will play each other again in slams, so it will help having won once against him."
Murray dismissed talk of a rift between himself and Federer after the 17-times grand slam champion appeared to say something derogatory towards the younger man after the first point of the game at 6-5 in the fourth set, when Murray was serving for the match.
"Stuff like that happens daily in tennis matches and it was very, very mild in comparison to what happens in other sports," Murray said, without elaborating on the exact wording. "It's just one of those things."