This highly entertaining edition of the World Tour Finals will come to a fitting conclusion today when for the first time in history two players will meet in the final to decide who ends the year as the number one player in the world.
We have already seen some great matches in London this year and now we will get the final many people have been expecting and hoping for.
Yesterday we have two more incredible matches in the semis when Murray defeated Raonic 5-7, 7-6(5), 7-6(9) in 318 minutes and Djokovic walked all over Nishikori 6-1 6-1 in 66 minutes. Two incredible matches for two very different reasons.
— TennisTV (@TennisTV) November 19, 2016
After setting the record for the longest three-set match in ATP Finals history against Nishikori on Wednesday, Murray broke the record again yesterday with an absolute marathon against Raonic where he served twice for the match in the third set but couldn’t close it out.
In the end, he did very well to outlast a tenacious Raonic who just wouldn’t go away. The final set tiebreak was a fitting climax, full of drama and tension. Certainly, it was one of the matches of the year.
Next Djokovic took the court and delivered one of the performances of the year. The 6-1, 6-1 drubbing of Nishikori was a display of baseline mastery the likes of which only Djokovic can deliver.
— TennisTV (@TennisTV) November 19, 2016
This is now without a doubt the old Djokovic but there is still one match left with everything on the line.
- Final Preview
One wonders what went through Murray’s mind watching Djokovic put on a clinic against Nishikori or hearing the result. Murray will play today for the third day in a row and has already broken the record for the longest three-set match in ATP Finals history twice this week.
He has also played an awful lot of tennis since the beginning of October winning Beijing, Shanghai, Vienna, and Paris. Murray never seems to get tired but given the fact that Djokovic is now back to his best I don’t think all that tennis Murray played is going to help.
Sure he is in the winning habit but he will deal with a different kind of opponent altogether from what he has faced since losing to Djokovic in the French Open final.
And it will be the real test of his new number one status. If he wins no one can say he doesn’t deserve to be number one. If he loses it will be clear that he only got to number one because of weakened competition.
Personally, I am just delighted to see Djokovic back to his best because I have felt all along that he deserves to end the year number one after winning more slams and masters than Murray. And now he will have the chance to prove it.
I had serious doubts as to whether Djokovic would be able to get over his slump before the end of the year but as I watched him since the match against Thiem I saw an immediate improvement and started realizing how much was on the line in London.
Djokovic needed to rise to the occasions one more time or he could risk losing his grip on the tour indefinitely. He needed to send the tennis world a reminder why he won the personal slam this year or he could risk losing his aura of invincibility.
Things have been slipping for him since the French Open and although I wasn’t one of those who bought into the decline talk at all he did need to send the critics a reminder before the end of the year so he could start 2017 as the undisputed best tennis player in the world.
Of course, he hasn’t done that yet this week but he has already put the critics on notice that he means business. And if he does win today he would have shut their mouths in convincing fashion the way only he can.
As a fan, it will be unbelievably sweet if he shuts down all this decline talk and the western media who is always trying to instigate something. So far this week their instigation has only served to motivate Djokovic and make him better.
If Djokovic wins a 6th World Tour finals and ends the year as number one for the 5th time I am once again going to be very grateful to them for their support and role in motivating Djokovic. They never seem to learn.
As for Murray, he certainly can’t be underestimated. He still seems like a different player with Lendl in his corner. He looks a lot more offensive in the pressure moments as opposed to becoming passive like in the past.
This makes him a different animal to deal with and this will be the first meeting between the two since Lendl is back for Murray. That said, I like Djokovic’s chances. He has taken advantage of his draw and schedule while Murray has not been clinical enough against Nishikori and Raonic.
I still see a difference in the two players’ ability to defeat the quality opposition clinically. Djokovic does so with ease when the time is right while Murray gets involved in long drawn-out matches. Even this new version of Murray is not as good as Djokovic at his best.
Djokovic just takes tennis to an unbelievable level which has never before been witnessed in the sport. There is also the fatigue factor for Murray. Djokovic could get it done in straight sets but when it goes to three sets Djokovic surely becomes the favorite.
If Djokovic wins the first set it becomes very difficult indeed for Murray. I mean how much can you play before you simply have no choice but to become tired?
I have to say I like Djokovic’s chances given that I still think his best is better than Murray’s best, the fact that he is by far the fresher of the two, and his performance against Nishikori yesterday.
I’m certainly not writing off Murray’s chances but Djokovic is the favorite to me.