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ATP World Tour Finals 2013 Day 8: Djokovic defends year-end crown

Novak Djokovic claimed his third year-end title

Wimbledon.com's highlights from the eighth and final day of the  Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at London's O2 Arena...

Djokovic turns tables back in his favour
He may not be the year-end No.1, but Novak Djokovic proved there is plenty to play for in 2014, redressing the balance nicely against Rafael Nadal with a 6-3, 6-4 win in their 39th meeting. Successfully defending his title on one of the surfaces that suits him best, Djokovic was the superior player for much of the hour and 36-minute final, denying Nadal the last significant title he has not yet won.

The world No.2 began on a tear, romping through the first three games as Nadal struggled with his pace and depth. But, saving a break point that would have seen him in danger of a 0-4 deficit seemed to start Nadal's engines, and he won his own set of three games in a row to level the set. The pair playing a couple of scintillating points that had all 17,500 people inside the O2 rather ranting and raving, in a good way, Djokovic's roar rang around the famous dome as he broke for 5-3, serving out the set 6-3.

He continued as he had finished, breaking at 1-1 to lead 2-1. And didn't really look back. With Nadal looking a little leg-weary - perfectly understandable given what he has achieved in his 17 tournaments this season, winning 14 of them, and reaching semi-finals or better in all but Wimbledon - he couldn't quite find his way back.  He saved two match points, the second in particular with a pass that only Nadal can make. But it was not enough, Djokovic serving out, celebrating with a leap and a roar, but no shirt-ripping. He was simply better. 

"We push each other to the limit [and] we make each other better," said Djokovic. "We make each other work harder on our games, especially when we play against each other. It's always a huge challenge.

The result means Nadal remains without the World Tour Finals trophy in his collection, his record now that of two finals played, two finals lost. 

"One thing that made the difference in today's match was the serve," said Nadal. "I didn't serve well, he served well. On this kind of court, the first shot is very important and he hit that first shot much better than me.

"I think at the beginning he was playing much better than me. The first three games, no doubt. Even the fourth…After that I didn't see that difference. I felt I was playing aggressively, going for the shots. I had the control of the points a lot of times with my forehand after the [first] three games."

But, that said, the year-end, and year-beginning, No.1 spot is his - not bad for someone who didn't win a match in two of the year's four Grand Slams. 

“It is very special what happened this year,” said Nadal. “The emotions of this season after a tough year for all of us have been fantastic.

“The only thing that I can say is congratulate my opponent and at the same time congratulate my team because all the achievements, all the success that I had this year, without my family, all my team, it was impossible to have; all the special feelings, the special moments.”

We are in a special moment of the history of tennis. I won't say that it is a better moment than others, but it is special for this fact. The only thing I am sure of is I’m going to try to keep working hard and hopefully I will be healthy to keep competing the way that I am doing."

For Djokovic meanwhile, who finishes the season with a perfect 22-0, the stage is happily set for him to start another chapter in their rivalry in 2014 - getting that top spot back off Nadal (he's less than 1,000 points behind) and adding to his own haul of major titles. And what better place to start than Australia - a tournament he is even more at home at than here in London. 

"This can serve as a great platform for 2014 season," Djokovic said. "I'm extra motivated and inspired to work and get myself, first of all, rested and recovered in the off season, and then work on my game and get ready for Australian Open."

A third year-end title, a seventh title this year, a 41st career title, 72 wins, 9 losses. One Grand Slam. It's not 2011, but it's not too shabby. 

"I think I've worked on a few things in my game and serve that has helped me win a lot of matches in last two months," said Djokovic. "This is definitely the best possible way that I can finish the season."

But first he's got the Davis Cup final, in Belgrade. A way to cap off the season in even more style. 

"I hope that we can bring another title to our country."

Verdasco and Marrero combine for storyboard upset
Those reading Fernando Verdasco's name on the doubles list for this tournament might well have rubbed their eyes in surprise. But the Spaniard, once a competitor in the singles at this event, has found new love in the doubles discipline in 2013, alongside fellow Spaniard David Marrero.

Their fairytale concluded in the finest of fashions on Monday afternoon as they upset the best doubles team in the world, one of the best of all time, beating the Bryan brothers 7-5, 6-7, 10-7. The Bryans had had set point in the first set at 5-4, only for it to turn on a dime, and the all-in-orange Spaniards grab the set. Backed into a corner, the Bryans fought back, as they have done all week, sending the match into a super tie-break. But it was the Spaniards who were bouncing around, going up 4-1, and holding onto their lead till the deal was sealed. Verdasco falling flat on his back, then jumping up into Marrero's arms, they oozed jubilation.

The smiles turned to tears as Marrero dedicated the win to his grandfather, who had died exactly two years ago to the day, while Verdasco couldn't quite wait to start spraying champagne.

"It was a special victory," said Verdasco. "We're going to go I think to a Spanish restaurant in South Kensington to enjoy the win with our family and friends.

"You don't win a tournament like this every day. I am really going to try to enjoy it. I think it's the best way to go on holidays."

The Bryans meanwhile end their fairly extraordinary season as the year-end No. 1 duo for the ninth time in the past 11 years, a 70-13 match record, and 11 titles, three of them Grand Slams.

"It's going to be tough to better this year – 11 titles: we won five Masters Series and three [Grand] Slam," said Mike Bryan. "We'll take a year like this every year.

"We can improve things. We're always finding new things to work on. We like to keep raising our level as we get older. We'll have the 100 title mark on the horizon. We'd love to shoot that down next year."

Bob Bryan said, "When we put the rackets down, we'll definitely know we gave it everything, we rung every last drop out of this tour. Our minds have stayed focused on that prize from day one. We've never once had a lapse in our energy and in our focus. That means not going out and partying. There's a lot of sacrifices that you make. But it's definitely worth it."

Curtain down on another year in London
Five years down, two left to go.  There's been murmurings of whether it should move, but it's been another year to remember at the O2. See you next year. 

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