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Sunday, 20 November 2016 23:22 PM GMT
ATP Finals Day 8: Murray ends year on top of the world rounds up the action from finals day at the ATP World Tour Finals. READ MORE

Andy Murray d. Novak Djokovic 6-3, 6-4

On the occasion of their last meeting in London, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic stepped onto court with a monstrous narrative hanging over their encounter.

The venue was Wimbledon, and Murray was bidding to become the first British man to win at the All England Club in 77 years. A nation settled in for what was surely to be an afternoon fraught with tension, but Murray stepped up with a supreme performance, delivering a straight sets victory that preserved the country’s nerves - save for that final game. 

By now, Murray counter-punch was following Murray counter-punch, and despite his record-setting exploits against Raonic there were no obvious signs of fatigue. If anything, the world No.1 looked the fresher of the two, and Djokovic’s much-vaunted backhand appeared to have broken down entirely. The Serbian’s belief was evaporating fast, and when Murray broke again for a 4-1 lead, the writing appeared to be on the wall.

Inevitably, Djokovic conjured up a response, breaking back before holding to get to 4-3. Murray lost a 33-shot rally on the opening point of the subsequent service game, and with his opponent threatening to return to his usual level, the pressure might have told.

It was the kind of moment in which world No.1s prove their mettle, and Murray, like he has done so often in 2016, rose to the occasion, fending off Djokovic’s advances to move within one game of the title.

Murray was never going to escape this encounter without at least one or two tense moments, and when Djokovic saved two match points in the final game, thoughts quickly turned to that harrowing final game on Centre Court.

But just as he did at Wimbledon, Djokovic fired a return long at the decisive juncture, handing Murray the perfect end to his extraordinary 2016 campaign.

What they said

Novak Djokovic:  "I just played very poorly, made a lot of unforced errors from the backhand side. It just wasn't my day."

"He played a lot of matches, especially in the last couple of months, and he won them all. He's on a streak.

"I guess even though he has had very long matches, especially the one yesterday, people were thinking maybe he's going to be slightly tired, but he didn't seem so. More than anything, he felt comfortable in the rallies and exactly knew what to do.

"Credit to Andy for being mentally tough and playing the right shots, making me play extra shots in every rally. Andy is definitely No.1 in the world."

Andy Murray:  "I don't think that was one of Novak's best matches. I think we have played better matches together. The end of the match was exciting and dramatic. But, you know, there were mistakes from both of us."

"I think for me, because obviously it's a matchup that over the last couple of years I lost a lot of the big matches against him, and his one was a big match where I managed to get over the line.

"Mentally that will, again, give me a boost going into next year, as well."


This was the acid test of Murray's No.1 credentials, and he passed it with flying colours. Since Wednesday morning, he's beaten the world No.5, 4, 3 and 2, and when all is said and done this will undoubtedly go down as one of his greatest acheivements in tennis.

It's hard to overstate the physical effort that has gone into Murray's ascent, and his world-leading status is richly deserved. The hard work doesn't stop here, though. Confirmed as the No.1 seed for the Australian Open in January, Murray admitted that his focus will now switch to increasing his Grand Slam tally - although hopefully he'll take a well-earned rest first.

For Djokovic, there are questions to answer, most notably over the makeup of his coaching team, but it is easy to forget the success he had at the start of the year, and he will no doubt return as a force after the close season.

Best shot

This textbook Murray backhand pass set him firmly on the patch to victory...

Best quote

"She [Kim Murray] has to get some credit, guys. She gave birth this year. He's traveled all over the world."

"So, Kim, well done. She's maybe made even a bigger effort than Andy." - Novak Djokovic on Kim's role behind Murray's rise up the rankings.

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