No major surprise, the top two players in the world, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, somewhat fittingly finish the 2015 Masters season battling for the last prize in the series Sunday in Paris.
The two arrive into the final in relative comfort.
Earlier today in the semifinals, Andy Murray outlasted David Ferrer 6-4, 6-3, in the opener. It wasn’t Murray’s best performance – he was broken in both sets – but he did just enough to beat up on Ferrer who at his age is still playing some great tennis.
“I do think I played some good tennis today,” said Murray. “I managed to shorten a lot of the points. There was some variety in there with the way the points finished, which was pleasing for me.”
Murray had never made the semifinals before and now after four really good wins he’s clearly in excellent form having now reached his fourth Masters final of the season.
“It’s been a good year,” Murray said. “I think most of the Masters events I played a pretty high level. There are a few matches I feel I could have done a bit better. But for the most part it’s been very good. This is a tournament I’ve struggled at in the past. It’s nice to come here, put a few good wins together, and I think a few very good performances, as well.”
But across the net Sunday will be his longtime rival Djokovic. The Serb’s set streak finally ended but his dominance continued.
After splitting sets against Stan Wawrinka, who was a little sluggish playing on short recovery, he crushed the Swiss in the finale 6-3, 3-6, 6-0 for his 21st straight victory. Only three players – Murray, Ivo Karlovic and Kevin Anderson – have won more than three games in a final set against Djokovic this year. That’s how tough he’s been at the end.
“Credit to Stan for playing a great second set and coming back, winning five games in a row,” said Djokovic who improves to 19-4 against Stan. “He was obviously serving more accurately, playing more powerfully from the baseline, getting more balls back and it worked for him. He played very well. But I still felt like I was hitting the ball well. You know, with this kind of feeling and approach, I got to the third set and played the best set of the tournament so far. Psychologically, it’s the most important part of the deciding set, any set – starting well, trying to make an early break (…) and make your opponent feel he’s under pressure.”
Afterward, Stan admitted to exhaustion having to finish off Rafael Nadal well past 1am last night when Djokovic was probably fast asleep.
“The beginning [of the third] was important,” said Wawrinka. “Unfortunately, he started to play well. I did a few mistakes, first three games, and then he started to relax and play too fast. I had no more energy to come back at 0-3. He started to play his best game when he played really fast and went for winners. Then it was really tough.”
Despite the losses, both Stan and Ferrer should be primed for strong showing at the ATP Finals.
So in the final, it’s Djokovic and Murray. It’s their 30th meeting with Djokovic enjoying the big edge 20-9. And Novak’s won 9 of the last 10 losing only in Canada.
“Should be an interesting match, that one. I think what he’s done this year has been exceptional,” Murray said. “I feel like this year I have pushed him close and beaten him once. But I think, two of the matches in Indian Wells and the last one in Shanghai from my side weren’t good. But apart from those I have been close. So it’s up to me to learn from the ones like the ones in Shanghai to make sure they aren’t as lopsided as that.”
The problem is this is a slow hardcourt which sets up well for Djokovic who won it the last two years, three times overall! So it’s a big advantage for Novak before you even factor in the head-to-head and their recent one-sided history.
Djokovic, though, is cautious.
“Never know what’s going to happen,” Djokovic said. “It’s always a special kind of challenge because we have a rivalry that goes back a long time. We played recently in Shanghai. I played one of my best matches against him. I’m sure he’s going to try and do something different. We push each other to the limit, and I don’t expect anything less than that.”
And I think it will go to the limit. But this has been Djokovic’s season; Murray will have his time in a few weeks in Belgium.
The pick: Djokovic in three
Tennis Channel has live coverage at 9am ET.
SUNDAY PARIS SCHEDULE
COURT CENTRAL start 12:15 pm
V. Pospisil (CAN) / J. Sock (USA) vs  I. Dodig (CRO) / M. Melo (BRA)
 N. Djokovic (SRB) vs  A. Murray (GBR)
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