5 things Andy Murray needs to do to beat Novak Djokovic


Andy Murray will face a familiar rival in Novak Djokovic in the final of the French Open on Sunday. This will be their 34th meeting and seventh in a Grand Slam final, with Djokovic leading the head-to-head 23-10.

The Serbian is bidding to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four slam titles at the same time. Here we look at what Murray needs to do if he is to beat the Serbian and win his third slam title.

1. Believe

It was only last year that Murray first began to think he could win the French Open title after transforming himself into one of the world's top clay courters. There is no doubt Djokovic's record on the red stuff - and on every other surface - is superior but, for the first time in their seven slam finals, Murray is not the only player who has never won the title before. Murray will be desperate to lift the trophy but this is a bit of a bonus for him whereas Djokovic has been desperate to win at Roland Garros for years. The pressure is on the Serbian, and Murray must use that to his advantage. The Scot, meanwhile, knows that, for all Djokovic's dominance, he won their previous meeting in Rome three weeks ago. It is an uphill task but a far from an impossible one.

2. Keep his cool

Britain's Andy Murray
(Alastair Grant/AP/PA)

Tennis is as much a battle between the ears as one of rackets and balls, and both these players wear their hearts on their sleeves. Murray's issues with on-court behaviour and being too negative are well documented. Djokovic is also prone to rants and fits of temper, which was in evidence earlier this week when he might have been defaulted had a racket he slammed into the clay in anger hit a line judge rather than just missed him. Djokovic also lost his cool in the Rome final, expending his energy complaining about the wet conditions. Murray was by far the calmer man that day and, as he showed in his semi-final against Stan Wawrinka, when he can stay fired up but focused, he is a very dangerous customer indeed.

3. Get off to a good start

Britain's Andy Murray
(Michel Euler/AP/PA)

Winning the first set is always important but particularly in matches between Djokovic and Murray. Only four times in all their previous meetings has the man who lost the first set won the match. And Djokovic was the winner on each of those occasions. Murray was on form from the start against Wawrinka and needs to be at that level again.

4. Serve well

Britain's Andy Murray serves
(Christophe Ena/AP/PA)

These two are the best returners in the game and two of the best in history so free points on serve are both rare and priceless. Murray's first serve is more powerful than Djokovic's but his second is undoubtedly weaker - although much improved. Murray is averaging 64% of first serves in, and if he can stay at that level it will give him a chance. Anything below 60% and Djokovic is likely to be dictating too much in Murray's service games. The Scot won a highly impressive 61% of points on his second serve against Wawrinka, which was one of the keys to him winning the match.

5. Mix it up

Andy Murray
(Christophe Ena/AP/PA)

Murray naturally has more variety in his game than Djokovic and he will need to use that to his advantage. Djokovic is the master at dictating from the baseline, using his phenomenal speed and accuracy to drill the ball from corner to corner until an opening presents itself. Murray must throw in slices, bring Djokovic forward, come to the net himself and, yes, deploy the drop shot. The Scot's critics berate him for over-using it, and that was certainly the case in his quarter-final against Richard Gasquet. But it is a vital tool in his armoury and can be a very effective tactic on clay. He got it spot on against Wawrinka, who could not read what Murray was going to do next. The British number one also won 19 of 23 net points against Wawrinka. A repeat would put him on the way to victory.