If the Doha final was a taste of what’s to come in the 2017 tennis season then it is going to be one hell of a year. Djokovic got his revenge over Murray 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 in maybe their best match yet.
Djokovic appeared nervous at the beginning which was understandable after what happened in London but he soon found his rhythm from the ground and he went through a stretch where he won 16 consecutive points on serve which put pressure on Murray’s serve.
The pressure eventually got to Murray as Djokovic broke in the eighth game to take a 5-3 lead. Djokovic continued to exert pressure on Murray in the second set with that incredible baseline consistency and broke serve again at 3-3 after a Murray double fault.
At 5-4 he was serving for the match which looked like it would be a masterclass win but Murray saved three match points in the game and broke back. I didn’t feel like Djokovic choked but he wasn’t quite convincing in putting Murray away either.
— doublefault28 (@doublefault28) January 7, 2017
I’d rather give Murray the credit for how well he played in that game as he took break point with a tremendous inside out forehand winner. The momentum was now with him as he held serve and broke Djokovic again to win the second set.
Going into the third set, the commentator said that Djokovic could tire after the match with Verdasco but I wasn’t quite buying it. Becker also tweeted that the momentum was now with Murray and I wasn’t quite buying that either.
How many times have we seen Djokovic smash a racquet after losing a set and coming back to win the next set? Many times and that is exactly what he did after losing the second set. Djokovic was playing like his old self even though Murray found a way back and I was confident that he would bounce back.
- Djokovic Goes In for the Kill
Serving at 2-3 in the third set it looked like Djokovic was doing the rope-a-dope again but it is always tough to tell with him. He may well have been feeling tired after the match with Verdasco.
Either way, despite visibly looking in trouble physically he found a way back in that game after being break point down to level at 3-3. The seventh game had a feel about it that Djokovic might break and that is exactly what he did.
He made the decision to take the initiative and be aggressive which paid off handsomely as he broke serve to love. At that point, he looked across the net at Murray and gave an intense stare.
— BreakPointBR (@BreakPointBR) January 7, 2017
He knew that was a big moment that even stubborn Murray was very unlikely to come back from. The quality of the tennis was just unreal and Murray was really stretching Djokovic to his very limits.
But as usual in their rivalry Djokovic just found something extra and I think it is safe to say now that he is back, although it will probably only be official if he wins the Australian Open.
That said, Djokovic still went 0-30 down on his serve when serving for the match for the second time and I thought here we go again. Fortunately, he spared me the anguish of losing serve again as he won the next four points and fittingly ended the match with a forehand winner.
It was pretty much the perfect ending to a perfect match. It lasted just short of three hours and as far as best of three set matches goes it is going to be very had to top this year.
- How Significant Was This Result?
I think there was a fair amount of significance to the match as well with the upcoming Australian Open and after what happened in London last year. Murray went into the match as the favorite according to the bookies with odds of 10/7.
The bookies reflect most people’s expectations but as you well know if you read my blog regularly I said after the World Tour Finals that Djokovic was on his way back and that I can see that trend continuing this year.
— BreakPointBR (@BreakPointBR) January 7, 2017
I certainly was not ready to write him off like so many and today he proved a lot of people wrong again. The key to the match for me was always going to be who was going to be the most aggressive.
Djokovic was not quite decisive enough when he served for the match but he certainly was decisive at 3-3 in the third set. He started out slightly tentatively because of nerves and then towards the end of the second set he was not aggressive enough either.
But overall he played a brilliant match with a good balance between defense and offense. To me, the old Djokovic was already back in London bar the final against Murray where he didn’t show up.
— Boris Becker (@TheBorisBecker) January 7, 2017
Beating Murray today was the next logical step if he continued that trend and winning the Australian Open would be the next. To me, he is the favorite for the title now. This was the perfect preparation.
A brutal match against his biggest rival with him coming out on top. As a fan, I am delighted to see Djokovic playing this well again and to see my faith in him paying off. I missed that incredible level of tennis and intensity from my favorite player.