It was only appropriate that world’s top two stars in men’s tennis played against each other in the first major final of the New Season. And true to expectations, they played electrifying tennis to gladden the hearts of their global fans. Since the Rogers Cup in July 2016, Novak Djokovic had failed to win any title and for the first time in nearly 2 years, lost his world no.1 ranking to Britain’s Andy Murray at 2016 Paris Masters. On Saturday, however, world No.2 Djokovic extracted his revenge of his Final’s loss at Year-end World-Tour Finals at London with a scintillating victory over Murray in the 2017 Qatar ExxonMobil Open at Doha. The Serb couldn’t steal the no.1 ranking from Murray but recorded the 67th Tour-level title of his career. With that, Djokovic also snapped Murray’s 28-match winning streak to lead the Brit 25-11 in their Head-to-Head rivalry.
Saturday’s final of Qatar ExxonMobil Open at Doha turned out to be a true classic between two of the best tennis players in the world. Novak Djokovic’s 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 victory over top-seeded Andy Murray cannot convey the true story of the match since, the Scot fought hard in the second set and saved three championship points to force the decider. The quality of play was supreme and spectators at Doha couldn’t have asked for a better finish. The final began aggressively from either side and Murray was the first with a break-chance in the third game of the opening set. Djokovic then required medical help for his bleeding finger before coming back to deny Murray. Later, the Serb rattled off four straight points and took the opening set rather comfortably.
Things were different in the second set, however. On Friday, Djokovic almost lost in a hard-fought semifinal against Spain’s Fernando Verdasco. The Spaniard had an upper hand as he held five match points over Djokovic before the Serb fought back to win and enter the final. He carried the fighting momentum in the second set against Murray and raced to a 5-3 lead. It was here that Murray did a turnaround. He broke Djokovic twice, saved three match points and won the set 7-5 and the decider was on. Thereafter, Murray tried to stay in the match but the Serb found his bearings and secured the only break of the decider’s seventh game. Once that happened, there was no stopping the Serb as he closed the match at 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 to win the Doha Trophy for the second year in a row.
Murray still has the advantage of 780 ranking points over Djokovic but the difference is not great considering that the winner of the Australian Open would collect 2000 points. Therefore, Sir Andy Murray will lose his lofty status if he fails to reach the Australian Open semifinals and Djokovic wins at Melbourne yet again. Regardless, one thing is very clear. The Djokovic-Murray rivalry will continue for a while and tennis in the new season will keep seeing the Serb and the Scot fighting for the top honor.
Last week also saw a new champion at 2017 Brisbane International with Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov beating Japan’s Kei Nishikori in the three-set final. It was Dimitrov’s first ATP win in three years. Nishikori went into the match as the favorite but Dimitrov produced his best tennis in the first set to unsettle Nishikori. However, the Japanese came roaring back to take the second set and the final went to the decider. However, Nishikori couldn’t carry the momentum in the third set and Dimitrov smartly bounced back to wrest the initiative. In the end, it was the Bulgarian, who came out on tops with a 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 victory.