In the rivalry of 2012, Novak Djokovic outlasted home favorite Andy Murray 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 in the round robin stage at London’s ATP Finals. It was the duo’s seventh meeting of the year, and now the Serb leads 4-3 after another hard fought win.
“Another great match,” Djokovic said. “Another great performance from both of us. I hope that people who watched it agree with my opinion. I didn’t expect anything less, you know, other than a tough match that went down the wire and was decided in the last point. It was important for me after dropping a first set to stay mentally tough and believe that I can get my opportunities, and when they’re presented to try to step in and use them.
“That’s what I’ve done. I don’t think I’ve played bad in the first set. It was him playing really well, serving extremely well. He lost only couple of points on his first serve throughout the whole set. So that says enough about his quality.”
In a topsy-turvy final set, Djokovic was up a break, then lost it, then regained it before closing it out. Murray, who had won his first match in three sets over Tomas Berdych, came up just short against his longtime rival.
“In about the last two minutes of the match probably is what decided it,” Murray said. “He broke from 15‑40, and then I had 15‑40 next game and didn’t break. So that was the moment that decided the match.”
It was the third straight time these two played right down to the wire after Shanghai and the US Open final.
“The intensity of my matches with him have been extremely high this year,” Murray said. “I’d say with Rafa, you know, on these surfaces in the past I’ve had a lot of very intense, close matches with him, as well. But the one thing I would say is, this year I think both of us probably have seen things in each other’s games probably improve, and that’s why there’s a lot of long rallies, and the matches are incredibly tight.”
Djokovic improves to 2-0 in Group A play and on the brink of a semifinal berth while Murray falls to 1-1. Murray will clinch a spot in the last four by beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets. Any other result will leave the Scot at the mercy of other factors.
The only way Djokovic does not qualify is if he loses to Berdych in straight sets and Murray beats Tsonga in straight sets.
In the late match, Tomas Berdych remained a big factor in Group A defeating Tsonga 7-5, 3-6, 6-1. The Czech who is also 1-1 like Murray must at least win one set Friday against Djokovic to have a chance to get out of the round robin.
“I don’t like mathematics at all. I will try to play tennis, and that’s it. I will try my best,” Berdych admitted. “But Novak just shown how great he’s playing right now and that he deserve to be No. 1 player in the world. It’s a huge challenge for me. But the other hand, he already has two wins, so let’s see what’s going to be in that last match.”
Meanwhile, at 0-2 Tsonga is still alive but barely. The only way the Frenchman reaches the semifinals is if he beats Murray in straight sets and Djokovic does the same to Berdych.
On Thursday Group B play resumes with Roger Federer taking on the streaking David Ferrer following by Juan Martin Del Potro against Janko Tipsarevic. Federer has won 11 straight matches at the event and has dominated Ferrer winning all 13 of their career meetings. But the Spaniard comes in fresh off a Paris title and a winner of his last 11 matches including a three set win Tuesday over Del Potro.
If Federer beats Ferrer in straight sets the six-time tournament champion will again qualify for the semis. If Ferrer beats Federer and Del Potro wins David earns a spot.
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