Just on expected lines, the title game in men’s singles final of 2016 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals has brought two of the world’s best tennis players across each other. The historic result on November 20 will also decide as to who walks off with the honors of the world no.1. While topping the year-end ATP ranking will be the supreme issue, there are other equally important factors for the two top contenders. Andy Murray has never won the Tour Finals and he will attempt to translate his dream into reality. Murray’s ambition of the maiden title will collide with Novak Djokovic’s desire of equaling Roger Federer’s record of winning the Tour Finals six times. Djokovic and Murray had contrasting semifinal victories against their opponents on Saturday. While Djokovic ceded just two games in an easy victory over Japan’s Kei Nishikori, Murray had to dig deep in his fight against Canada’s Milos Raonic. His hard-earned victory shows the Scot’s willpower and despite having played two matches of over three hours over the week, Murray is not likely to yield an inch against the Serb on Sunday.
Except his fight with Austria’s Dominic Thiem in the first match, Novak Djokovic made smooth progress through to the title game of 2016 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. On the other side, Murray sweated and fought in two of his four matches. First it was Kei Nishikori, who made it hot for the Scot in his second round-robin match. Murray sailed into the semifinals with a surprisingly easy 6-4, 6-2 victory over Stan Wawrinka but it was the semifinal against Canada’s Milos Raonic that took Murray by his collar. It was a match that could have gone either way but Murray fought from the brink, bruised his knuckles and won the battle. However, Raonic had been close. The Canadian began by taking the first set 7-5, when Murray double-faulted on his serve at 5-5. All Raonic had to do was to hold his service. The second set began with the Canadian racing to a 2-0 lead but Murray leveled the score to 2-2. The Canadian was still going strong as the set sailed into the tiebreak. At 5-5, Murray was merely two points away from defeat but he saved the situation with a great forehand volley that Raonic couldn’t reach. In the third set, the two players traded breaks as another tiebreak ensued. It was here that Raonic had a match point against the current world no.1. However, Murray held his nerves and came through the tiebreak and secured his place in Sunday’s final with a brain-jangling 5-7, 7-6, 7-6 victory. The classic semifinal took 3 hours and 38 minutes to finish, during which Murray had bleeding knuckles, when he repeatedly pumped his fist into his racquet strings in sheer frustration. As for Djokovic, he played commandingly against Japan’s Kei Nishikori in a lop-sided 6-1, 6-1 victory.
Finally, it has all come down to the last match in the World-Tour Finals between Djokovic and Murray as they take on each other for the world no.1 ranking at London’s O2 Arena. The year-ending no.1 spot had never previously been at stake in this fashion. The organizers could not have been happier in the way that event has unfolded. Given Djokovic’s smooth progress and Murray’s hard battle through the week, the Serb looks like unseating Murray from his 15-day status as the world no.1. The way Djokovic destroyed Nishikori in 66 minutes makes him a strong favorite. The Serb produced his best tennis since his victory at Roland Garros this year. The one thing stacked against Murray is his tiredness but the Scot is not short of the willpower. The second part of the 2016 tennis season belonged to the Brit and he has come to the crunch moment with string of victories behind him since winning the gold at the Rio Olympics. Therefore, despite Djokovic looking better, one can never tell the outcome of the Sunday’s final.