• Australian Open, Day 12

What They Said

ESPN staff
January 27, 2012 « Murray confident of defeating Djokovic - Lendl | Chartbeat test »
Andy Murray let the match slip from his grasp © PA Photos
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Djokovic denies determined Murray

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Andy Murray may have lost his semi-final to world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, but the world No. 4 believes his performance showed he has closed the gap between him and Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

"Tonight's match was important for many reasons. Obviously I wanted to win first and foremost. But, you know, also sort of after last year, the year that Novak's had, I think there's a very fine line between being No. 1 in the world and being 3 or 4. I think that gap, I feel tonight I closed it. My job over the next two or three months is to surpass him and the guys in front of me. So take a lot of hard work, and hopefully I can do it."

Novak Djokovic noticed the improvement in Murray, and believed his 6-3 3-6 6-7(4) 6-1 7-5 win was one of the toughest of his career.

"[Murray] was more confident on the court. He was taking his chances. He was being more aggressive. I think he was playing better. [The match was] definitely one of the best ‑ under the circumstances. I had a couple matches in New York against Roger in last couple years which can be compared to this one. But timewise, I think this was one of the longest, if not the longest, that I've played in the later stages of a grand slam.

"As a tennis player, you practice hard every single day knowing that you will get an opportunity to be part of such a great match and on such a high level."

Vera Zvonareva and Svetlana Kuznetsova only signed up for the women's doubles the night before the competition, but the Russian duo blazed to the title in Melbourne, prompting questions about a possible match-up for the Olympics.

"I don't know," Zvonareva said. "Everyone is keep asking us this question. But, you know, when we signed in to play doubles here, we weren't thinking about it. I think the most important is that I enjoy playing with Sveta. You know, it's not our main focus. It makes it easier because we are going to play doubles to enjoy, maybe to practice few things, and that's nice. Long‑term, you know, we don't know. Depends. Because we have so many great players that can play well in singles and doubles. And I think both of us, we will try to make it to the Olympics in singles. That's the most important thing. You know if we get chosen for doubles, we get chosen. Like I said, it's a very tough competition in our country and we just have to play it by ear."

Ahead of her final against Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka believes her new-found maturity will help her in her maiden grand slam final and insists the Russian does has the edge, having played in six major finals.

"I worked hard to be in this situation, so why stress about it? I want it and that's what I'm looking for, so I'm just going to go out there and try to do my best. I think she's a very tough opponent. She's been in the finals here, she won here, so definitely she has a lot of experience. We always had difficult matches, so really looking forward to that battle. It's not going to be easy.

"I had, how do you call that, meltdowns? I had some. For sure you can see some on YouTube. But, you know, I grow as a player, I grow as a person, and I try to learn from my mistakes and make it better. So I'm proud of what I'm doing. I just want to keep going and keep raising that level."

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