Finally, Great Britain’s Andy Murray stays as the world’s no.1 tennis player. The 2016 tennis season for Murray began with a fourth final loss to Serbia’s Novak Djokovic at year’s first Grand Slam in Australia. That is still the only Slam that has eluded Murray. In the year’s second Grand Slam at Roland Garros, the result was identical. Djokovic won his first ever title at the French Open and Murray finished as the runners-up. For half the season, Djokovic looked unbeatable but in the second half of 2016, Murray made a huge turnaround. He won the Wimbledon for the second time in July and became the only player in Olympic history to win two singles gold medals. By this time, Djokovic had suffered an unusual loss of form, perhaps due to an injury. On the other hand, Murray was winning everything and he acquired the tag of world no.1 on November 7, when he defeated USA’s John Isner in the final of BNP Paribas Masters in Paris. Last week, Murray entered the 2016 Barclays World-Tour Masters as a 15-day old world no.1 but he was threatened by a born-again Djokovic, who seemed nearly certain of regaining his tennis superiority of 123 weeks on trot. When the two top guys of world tennis entered the court on Sunday for the grand finale, odds were stacked heavily against Andy Murray. The Scot had played two marathon matches in three days and fatigue and match weariness did not bode well for him. Djokovic had obviously found his form and his victory against Japan’s Kei Nishikori was an emphatic proof. But Andy Murray displayed his fighting instincts and turned the tables on the long-time world no.1. The Brit scored a decisive straight sets victory over the Serb to gladden the hearts of his supporters at London’s O2 Arena. That ensured Murray will stay as world no.1 for a while now. In a perfect script, two top ranked players had reached the last match of the year for the first time with the no. 1 ranking on the anvil.
On Sunday night, London’s O2 Arena was packed with expectant supporters, including Andy Murray’s mom and his wife Kim. Those, who saw Novak Djokovic demolish Kei Nishikori in a facile 65-minute semifinal on Saturday, had only a slim hope that Murray could retain his world no.1 spot after the match. But their hopes soared as Murray began serving in the first set. There was no sign of tiredness in Murray’s movements as he took the first game 1-0 after beginning with a double fault. Murray took the seventh game in a series of service-holds and broke Djokovic next to take a 5-3 lead. The ninth service game gave Murray the first set at 6-3. Suddenly, it seemed all too easy for Andy Murray.
The second set began with Djokovic losing his service. Now Murray looked far superior with his shots finding their marks. His mother Judy stood every time Murray scored a winner. Her son took a 4-1 lead by breaking Djokovic once more in the fifth game. With Murray’s service coming up next, the O2 Arena came alive with the hope of an easy victory for the Scot. But Djokovic had not finished. In the sixth game after Murray led 30-15, the Scot served a double fault and played a backhand into the net. That gave Djokovic a chance to bounce back. He broke Murray and held his service to make it 4-3. For a while, the crowd became silent after murmurs of worried echoes. But Murray held his service in the eighth game to come within one point at 5-3. Djokovic easily held his service and Murray began serving for the championship at 5-4. He won two points to make it 30-0 but ceded the next two and the Serb leveled it at 30-30. The atmosphere at O2 was palpable as Murray forked out his first match point. Djokovic failed to capitalize on the easiest of shots, when Murray’s inviting lob became a great kill. But soon, Djokovic produced a great service return to take the game to deuce. Murray earned his second match point with a booming service in the corner only to see the Serb taking the game to deuce once again. However, when Djokovic sent a forehand wide, Murray earned his third match point. That got converted, when another Djokovic shot fell wide and Murray became the first-ever champion of the Barclays ATP World-Tour Finals.
That also ensured that the Scot would continue as the ATP’s top-ranked singles player. The over-fatigued Murray can hope to spend his next few weeks with Kim and their baby daughter, Sophia. And when the next tennis season begins, he will still be world no.1.
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