Novak Djokovic favourite to prevail against Andy Murray in Wimbledon final
By Tim Clement - Twitter: @SkyTimClement. Last Updated: July 6, 2013 5:18pm
Andy Murray: Looking to end Britain's 77-year wait for a men's singles Wimbledon winner
Andy Murray starts the men's Wimbledon final in the familiar position of outsider with Novak Djokovic expected to consolidate his place at the top of the men's game.
After a fortnight of upsets, the men's top two seeds have made their way safely through, meaning they will have contested three of the last four major finals come Sunday night.
However, also commonplace is Murray's status as the underdog, having been the outsider in all of his previous six Grand Slam finals.
The Scot had to come from behind against both Fernando Verdasco and Jerzy Janowicz to reach the final, prompting his odds to drift out from the 5/4 handed to him after Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer crashed out.
Meanwhile, Djokovic, the pre-tournament favourite who is now odds-on, made relatively light work of Tomas Berdych before fending off an inspired Juan Martin del Potro.
It is also fair to suggest that Verdasco also cranked up his level significantly but, in an industry of numbers, the bookies cannot look past the difference in rankings.
Murray is yet to face anyone ranked higher than 20th in the world, with Verdasco 54th and Janowicz 22nd, while Djokovic saw off two players in the top eight, both boasting experience of reaching major finals.
There is also a significant disparity between the top two's Grand Slam final records, with Murray winning one in six while Djokovic has prevailed in six out of 10.
SW19 records tell a similar story with the Serb winning in his only appearance on the final Sunday, while his opponent will still harbour memories of falling agonisingly short here last year.
However, what will be fresher and hopefully more prominent in Murray's memory will be his two crucial victories over the world number one last year.
The Brit produced some of his finest tennis to date in defeating Djokovic and then Federer at the Olympics, before ending his wait for a first Grand Slam title with a five-set win over the Serb.
That was a giant leap for Murray but history still looms large at the All England Club, with the expectations of a nation sat on his shoulders.
However, Murray has won a lot of people round over the last 12 months and we should see Centre Court as a help rather than a hindrance now.
There has also been a notable change in Murray's on-court attitude, channelling the frustrations to fuel the fire of his fight backs relatively calmly rather letting them boil over.
Slow starting has been a problem throughout his career and especially evident in his last two performances, so some might be tempted to follow the pattern and back him to come from behind again.
Djokovic to win the first set at 4/6 is likely to be popular, but I'd suggest that the circumstances will be very different on Sunday.
It took Murray some while to adapt to the aggressive serving of Verdasco and Janowicz before nullifying their threats, but he will be more than ready for what is coming next, having faced the fellow 26-year-old 18 times on tour.
There has been very little between these two in recent meetings, with none of the last four being settled in straight sets, while they have played out 14 sets in their three majors clashes.
Therefore I'd suggest going with your pick to prevail in four or five sets or just backing the match to go to a decider at 11/5.
Having tipped up the Scot pre tournament I'll stick with him to win in five at 6/1, with the closest of clashes inevitable.
While the Djokovic v Murray rivalry may lack the iconic edge of Nadal v Federer, it is certain to be one hell of a battle on Sunday between two players who never know when they're beaten.