Highlights from the eighth day of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at London's O2 Arena...
At 3-0 up in the opening set of his third ATP World Tour Finals title defence, Roger Federer must have thought the fates circling London's O2 Arena were on his side. Novak Djokovic, his opponent, may have snatched the year-end world No.1 ranking from him, but Federer was as at home under the O2 roof as he had ever been.
Playing as freely in the opening exchanges as he had against Andy Murray the night before, it looked like Federer could be well on his way to a third straight season-ending title without much ado at all. Djokovic was the one swatting at his racket angrily and looking downbeat.
But, against the run of form, Federer surrendered the break, and then the set, Djokovic turning the screw when he had to to win the tie-break 8-6. No matter, the purple-clad Swiss went 2-0 up in the second with a break, and, serving at 5-4, had two set points to take the match to a third and final set. But then the world re-wound itself to the US Open semi-final of 2011, and Federer's two match points against the Serb.
Much as he did then, Djokovic saved those two set points, his reaction so primal that he was almost about to rip his shirt in two all over again, as he had done in Melbourne almost 10 months earlier.
"Maybe a bit of regret because I had the lead twice first before him," Federer said when asked about his reaction to the match. "At the end of the day, that doesn't matter. You have to get over the finish line in the set and then obviously at the match. He was better at that today. I thought it was a good match. It was great intensity, good crowd. So it was fun playing."
"I shouldn't have been broken as often as I was broken today. But then again, that obviously has something to do with Novak, as well. It was extremely close."
Breaking back for 5-5 and then holding serve, his forehand whipping around up and over his head, Djokovic forced Federer to serve to stay in the match. It proved to be a step too far, the Swiss hitting his 42nd unforced error to give Djokovic championship point. Sending a backhand winner past the defending champion at the net after two hours and 15 minutes, Djokovic won the season-ending finale for only the second time, and for the first time here in London.
Glaring at his box with the same 'yes I am the best' belief emanating from his every membrane, Djokovic roared as the O2 crowd roared with him, crowning himself as the undisputed best player in the world.
"It's not the first time that Roger starts against me so well," Djokovic said. "I've experienced before his aggressivity, really trying to put his mark on the match. It's what he's done again. You know, I didn't know in which direction the match would really go, but I tried to convince myself that I will make a turnaround and I will fight. It happened again. I managed to deliver my best game when it was needed the most.
"It's very satisfying for my team and myself to conclude this fantastic season with a World Tour Finals win. I wanted really to fight and I really wanted to get as far as I can in this tournament. Winning all the matches I played makes it even more special."
As a result, the world No.1 became the ninth player to win the season-ending event twice or more. Next up? Exhibition events and a holiday.
"Two and a half weeks completely off in a very tropical, very beautiful place with no racquet, no nothing, no tennis, just trying to recharge my batteries," he revealed. He deserves it.
Earlier, in the doubles, it was the turn of one of the surprise packages of the tournament to lift the trophy, as Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez, making their season finale debut, defeated Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna 7-5, 3-6, 10-3. As Bhupathi's volley sailed long on match point, the Davis Cup duo leapt into each other's arms, beaming broadly at the biggest win of their careers by a landslide.
“We finished here winning the title, so it's incredible for us,” Granollers said. “We try to play as best as we can always. I think we have very good relationship. So, I think, that's one of the key of our success.
Granollers and Lopez were the first Spanish duo to compete at the season-ender since Sergio Casal and Emilio Sanchez in 1994, and Bhupathi pointed out what makes them such a tricky combination.
“It’s always tough playing them,” he said. “They're not a conventional doubles team. They make it very, very difficult in more ways than one, no matter who they play. We were expecting that. We fought hard to stay in the match. [We] got ourselves again into a Match tie-break. This time I think we just played a bad tie-break. That sums it up."
The end of the World Tour Finals brings to a close the ATP tennis season, although there remains the Davis Cup final between Spain and the Czech Republic in Prague next weekend and several exhibition matches. And so it continues.