Two years in a row, Andy Murray left Melbourne a loser in the final of the Australian Open and fell into the most awful funk until the clay court swing roused his spirits. On Friday, in two excellent sets in Dubai, he blitzed the unblitzable Novak Djokovic, his conqueror in a titanic semi-final in Australia only a couple of months ago. No early-season blues, then, for Murray in 2012, which may turn out to be his breakthrough year.
He has a new coach in Ivan Lendl, and a new attitude. The Sultan of Sulk was nowhere to be seen in the desert on Friday as he set up a final against either Roger Federer or Juan Martín del Potro.
This was some win, albeit over the shorter distance, 6-2, 7-5. He achieved it largely through a souped-up serve – fast, varied and with great control – against probably the best defensive player in the world. Making full use of a super-fast surface, Murray banged in five aces and got a stunning 71% of first serves in, winning 85% of the points on them.
That's irresistible service power and efficiency. What does it mean for Murray and for tennis? Quite a lot.