The great thing about the Australian Open is the fact that you, like the tennis players, have to face being tired. Not that athletic kind of tired the players experience, but the it’s 3:30 in the morning and the match just started and you get the “I know will see the sun rise kind of tired.” It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. As you can guess, I decided to watch the Australian Open Final between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. I also decided to keep track of what I was thinking and what was being said among my two friends Kevin and Steve and I.
3:28 a.m. : I’ve decided I’m in it for the long haul, last year I watched last year’s five hour, 53 minute match between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. I’ve also declared that I’m cheering for Murray. Not the way Michael Scott declared for bankruptcy, mind you, but Kevin and Steve know.
3:32: The fresh pair of socks I just threw on my feet feel warm. Never underestimate the power of a fresh pair of socks. I figure my warm feet will give me enough comfort to stay awake for at least the first two sets.
3:33: Chris Fowler is going way too in depth describing the players’ literal path to the court. “Here they come, down the hallway, then a right, then another right…”
3:34: Steve likes the fact that both players came out to Bruno Mars. I nod to him, but secretly couldn’t disagree more. This is the Australian Open, not some 12-year-old girl’s birthday party at Chuck-E-Cheese. If anything I was more pumped by Fowler’s descriptions of the players’ path to the court. But, agree to disagree.
3:35: Kevin erupts, furious with the coin toss. “What kind of coin toss was that,” he exclaims. The toss seemed fine to me, far better than this one, but I’m keeping my eye on Kevin for the rest of the night.
3:38: Kevin now yelling at any person they show on the television. Very impatient. I consider telling him to calm down, but I don’t trust him at this hour, so he complains and yells at the television even more.
3:44: Joker serves. Fault. Serves again. Rally. Murray gets point. Tennis has begun.
3:45: “Let’s go Murr,” – Kevin. I can only imagine how far Kevin will take the nicknames. I’m expecting the worst, to the point where his nicknames don’t share any of the same letters with “Andy Murray.”
3:53: Murray looks weak on the backhand. His forehand is nice though. Still, Djokovic’s serves are too much and he takes a 2-1 lead in the first set. Murray looked good though when he served. Love the top spin he puts on the ball. If serves could come in cursive, Murray’s would be cursive, with the Italics setting on.
3:57: “C’mon Murr-dog.” – Kevin. Oh boy.
4:01: Djokovic makes a few unforced errors in the fifth game of the first set. Djokovic and Murray have a great rally with Djokovic having the advantage, but Murray makes a great recovery. We don’t have enough time to applaud this great return because Djokovic masterfully shoots the ball AROUND the net and in, to give himself a 3-2 lead in the first set.
4:09: After Murray falls 15-40 in the 6th game, two good rallies brings him to a deuce with Djokovic. Then Djokovic gets advantage. Then deuce. Then advantage Novak. Then deuce. During all of this Steve claims that he’s seeing two tennis balls. Welcome to 4:00 a.m., Steve.
4:14: Murray gets advantage, then an ace to win the game. As Steve put it, “If Murray wins this game, watch out.” I guess we’ll watch out.
4:15: Now tied at 3, both Kevin and Steve think Murray will win the seventh game. Should I trust the guy who calls Murray “Murr Dog” and the other guy who’s seeing two tennis-balls on the screen? Yeah, I guess I do. And sure enough, 15-love lead for the “Murr-Dog.”
4:17: Djokovic dives and is virtually on the ground to return a ball, and seconds later wins the rally. He’s number one for a reason.
4:19 Djokovic wins to take a 4-3 lead in the first set. I guess trusting those two wasn’t such a good idea after all.
4:20: Steve looks at us and says he’s done. Smiling, he claims, “I made it seven games!” He knows he failed us. He knows.
4:25: Murray ties it at 4-4, and the camera switches over to a shot of his coach. He couldn’t have looked more depressed. It’s like he knows Djokovic is going to win this match.
4:32: Kevin and I are still awed by Murray’s serve. So much curve.
4:35: Murray ties it. 5-5.
4:42: Murray with an unforced error, down 6-5, now down 15-30. The replay shows him yelling six words, three of which are clearly f-bombs.
4:44: Murray forces a tiebreak at 6-6, which is exactly what Kevin predicted at the beginning. Now I’m afraid for my sleep schedule that this will go five sets. The two players are playing very well always winning the games they served. It’s like they think it’s the Australian Open or something.
4:53: Murray wins the tiebreak 7-2. Murray looked completely different from Djokovic. He had more energy, he was making Djokovic move more, and made better shots. Djokovic looked tired and out of gas from the very beginning. Kevin fist pumps and I applaud. Our guy won the first set.
4:58: Murray wins 40-love in the first game of the second set. Even had to run back and forth and work more than Novak, but still looked energized. I’m making the assumption he’s drinking Michael Jordan’s secret stuff from Space Jam.
5:01: To note how hot Murray was getting, ESPN shows a graphic that reads, “Murray has won 13 of the last 15 points” After the graphic disappears, Murray wins the next point. After punching in all the numbers I concluded that Murray had now won 14 of the last 16 points. Hey, journalism majors have some math skills too.
5:03: After being down 40-love, Joker comes back to force deuce.
5:06: Djokovic comes back to win the second game. Kevin and I, especially me, are very disappointed. Real opportunity lost for Murray, who was up 1-0 and was on fire. That kind of momentum shift could be enough for Djokovic to make a run.
5:09: Murray wins the third game. I run off to the bathroom. While I’m in there, I notice the nice soft mat. I seriously consider lying down and taking a nap. However, I keep my focus and rush back downstairs.
5:18: Djokovic, frustrated with an unforced error, hits Murray’s unnecessary return with his foot, with a perfect arc. What a guy!
5:28: Murray takes a 4-3 lead. Meanwhile Kevin and I are yawning more than ever, making jokes and references that surely don’t make sense, and are laughing at anything anyone in the crowd yells, such as “Let’s go Andy!” Yes, when it’s 5:30 in the morning, that kind of stuff is hilarious.
5:33: Murray goes up 30-love in the ninth game and is yelling at the ball kids to give him a towel quicker. If I’m the ball kid I’m handing Andy the towel and running off the court and never looking back until I find my mom.
5:35: Murray goes up 5-4 and has a shot to go up 2 sets to none. Kevin and I smile and think of the possibility of going to bed around 7. Unfortunately we say all of this out loud, which means we’re bound to jinx it.
5:40: 5-5. We jinxed it.
5:42: Our spirits are lifted, and by “our” I mean “my”, thanks to the camera switching over to Vlade Divac and his family cheering on Djokovic.
5:44: Two hours into this match, Murray goes up 6-5 and has another shot to take the second set. Kevin and I are too tired to work up the strength to jinx it.
5:49: 6-6. Tiebreak. We jinxed it.
5:58: Djokovic wins the tiebreak 7-3. This time it was Novak who looked like he was drinking MJ’s special stuff from the movie. He had all the energy. Now it’s a best of three. Kevin and I both shake our heads in disgust. “I think I’ll go to my room and nod off for 45 minutes, then try to come back for the fourth and fifth sets,” he says. He’s not coming back.
5:59 Like last year, it’s just the tennis players and me. I don’t mind.
6:06: Djokovic looked very good at the beginning of the third set and goes up 1-0. He’s turned it up a notch.
6:13: Djokovic takes a 2-1 lead in the third set. No one has gotten a break point, aka, whoever has served has won the game. That’s how even these guys are.
6:14: During the quick commercial break I think about the two times I played tennis with my friends. I’m telling you, these tennis players make it look so easy. Or maybe I’m just that bad. It’s most likely a combination of both.
6:24: Murray makes it 3-3. Really celebrates after the victory and talks to himself out loud to pump him up. Has he been watching the game? If you don’t serve you don’t win!
6:26: The lack of Vlade Divac shots is making me upset. I think it might be more of the lack of sleep.
6:32: First point of the eighth game: A combined 36 shots before Djokovic wins it and goes up 15-0. Unbelievable. Just once I would like to be a part of a tennis rally that went on for 40 or 50 shots that didn’t include a Nintendo 64 controller.
6:36: Djokovic gets the first break of the match and goes up 5-3. His serve. He’s on the top of his game at this point, and is poised to take the third set.
6:38: Another Vlade Divac sighting. I find myself thinking about how good the early 2000- Sacramento Kings were and how fun watching those Kings-Lakers games used to be. I snap out of my daydream and go back to the match.
6:39: Sure enough, Djokovic takes the third set. Serbian fans outside the stadium are singing and chanting as Chris McKendry tries to talk tennis over them. Louder people! I don’t want to hear her voice!
6:44: Three hours in. Can’t feel parts of my body. Room getting colder. And what a surprise, no sign of Kevin for the fourth set.
6:52: Murray has another shot to get a break, but fails to do so. 1-1 in the fourth set. Missed opportunity to swing the momentum.
6:56: Djokovic wins Murray’s serve, goes up 2-1. In the words of Chris Fowler, “The finish line could be near.”
7:01: Djokovic wins the fourth game, 3-1. Looking more dominant than ever before in this match. In an effort to stay up for the end of this match, I attempt to eat my car keys. They taste awful and have absolutely nothing to help me stay awake.
7:10: Djokovic wins the fifth game, goes up 4-1. Do you believe in miracles??? No, not this time. This one’s all but over.
7:17: Vlade Divac sighting! Only this time he didn’t applaud when Djokovic went up 5-1. He looked deep in thought, as if he was trying to figure out what to say to Novak when he won.
7:20: Murray cuts it to 5-2. He has life, but still a huge mountain to climb.
7:24: Championship point, and as I look out the window and see daylight, I realize that I’ve stayed up way to late to cheer for a loser two years in a row now.
7:25: Novak Djokovic wins the Australian Open for the third consecutive year. The guy was an animal. He started slow and only got stronger as the match went on. Total match time three hours and 41 minutes.
So, I stayed up and watched the Australian Open. I had two friends by my side in the beginning, but that “tired” factor got the best of them. And although I watched the whole match, I was pretty beat too. Novak Djokovic on the other hand showed off his strength and showed us why he’s still number one in the world. I think I speak for just about everyone when I say I couldn’t do what he did.
I’ll just stick to watching from the couch every January, early in the morning. As for regrets, I have none. I enjoyed watching another great match, and look forward to next year. As the ESPN commercials always say, it’s not crazy; it’s sports.
7:31 … zzz