Djokovic crushes Nadal to reach final in London
Murray eyes Davis Cup relief for London pain
LONDON: Novak Djokovic turned on the style to outclass old adversary Rafael Nadal and reach the final of the ATP World Tour Finals with a 6-3 6-3 victory at the 02 Arena yesterday. Spaniard Nadal had looked like his old dominant self with round-robin wins against Andy Murray, Stanislas Wawrinka and David Ferrer, but the world number five was no match for Djokovic who was at his clinical best.
World number one Djokovic, bidding for a fourth consecutive title at the seasonender, and a fifth in total, launched an early onslaught, breaking Nadal’s serve in the LONDON: Andy Murray hopes the chance to make Davis Cup history with Great Britain will ease the pain of his frustrating ATP Tour Finals exit. Murray crashed out of the season-ending event on Friday after a 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 defeat against Stan Wawrinka denied him a place in the semi-finals. The world number two has never won the Tour Finals, but he will have to wait another year to lift the trophy at London’s O2 Arena.
Instead, Murray’s thoughts will immediately turn to international duty as Britain prepare for their first Davis Cup final in 37 years next week. It is a welcome situation for Murray, who couldn’t hide his disappointment at failing to make the Tour Finals last-four for the first time since 2012 as he smashed a racquet as the match against the French Open champion slipped away. “This is obviously a big event, one that I would have liked to have done better over the years. It just hasn’t quite happened for me,” Murray said.
“When you’re playing and competing against the best players, obviously it’s very important to do well. “I do enjoy playing here. Great crowds, good atmosphere. It’s a really nice venue to play in. “So that’s why I’m disappointed with the losses the last two days. I wish I could have done better. Obviously the only positive for me this week is I’ve come away from it injury-free. “Now I have a couple more days to get ready for Belgium (Britain’s Davis Cup final opponents).” Murray admitted he could have few complaints about his Tour Finals failure after a lacklustre effort against Rafael Nadal and then an error-strewn loss to Wawrinka.
He insisted his inconsistent efforts weren’t the result of spending most of the week before the Tour Finals practicing on clay courts at Queen’s Club to prepare for the surface that will be used in next week’s Davis Cup final in Ghent. “There’s no excuses. To be honest I made too many errors. It was tough. I couldn’t quite get the balance,” Murray said. “My timing wasn’t there certainly the last few days. It’s disappointing. “I felt like my timing would get better as the event second game of the match with four sweetly-struck, clean winners. From then on he was barely troubled by the 14-times grand slam champion who could make little impression. A dipping backhand forced a Nadal volley error to give the Serbian two break points in the fifth game of the second set and he converted after a fierce baseline rally. There was no way back from there for Nadal. Djokovic was clearly in a hurry to finish the job, breaking again at 53 with a flurry of pinpoint winners. He will face either Roger Federer or Wawrinka in today’s final. —Reuters went on, and it didn’t actually, it got worse. So that is nothing to do with not having enough time to prepare.”
Murray had already made it clear before the Tour Finals that his main priority at the end of the season was helping Britain win the Davis Cup for the first time since 1936. And the former Wimbledon champion is confident the prospect of victory at the end of a memorable Davis Cup campaign, which has already included wins over the United States, France and Australia, will quickly make him forget his London exit. “I didn’t find it difficult not thinking about the Davis Cup Final, to be honest,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for everyone. We look forward to it.”—AFP LONDON: Andy Murray of Britain reacts after losing a point against Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland during their singles tennis match at the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London on Friday, Nov 20, 2015. — AP LONDON: The tennis world was already abuzz with the name John McEnroe well before Britain arrived to play the United States in the 1978 Davis Cup final in the Californian desert. He had, after all, reached the Wimbledon semi-finals the year before as an 18-year-old qualifier, losing to Jimmy Connors, and repeated the feat at the 1978 US Open. But the wild-eyed left-hander had never been exposed to a Davis Cup singles rubber for the US and eyebrows were raised when he ousted Arthur Ashe from the team to face Britain-who had reached their first final since their heady days of 1936.
Not only that but McEnroe was drawn to play the opening rubber of the tie at Mission Hills against Britain’s John Lloyd. Lloyd’s team mate Mark Cox, who was to lose the doubles with David Lloyd, remembers what followed vividly from the safety of his position on the court-side bench. “I remember we were all quite excited to be facing McEnroe; he was the new young kid on the block,” Cox, who will be watching in Belgium next week when Britain try to win the title for the first time since 1936 said. “I thought he might be tight, maybe a bit nervous. But he served an ace on the first point. Kind of launched himself into the fray in quite spectacular fashion.
“He came out all guns blazing.”There was even a glimpse of the famous McEnroe temper which earned him the “Super-Brat” nickname after he was distracted by the voice of iconic British commentator Dan Maskell. “Dan was talking from a balcony above the court and it wasn’t enclosed and his lovely tones were drifting out to court,” Cox said. “That caused something of a confrontation between Dan and McEnroe, Dan got the full Mac glare! “Dan was the voice of Wimbledon and for this brash youngster to get into a confrontation with him was quite something.”
‘Up against genius’
Unless Belgium have been hiding away a potential world beater, Britain will have less to fear when they arrive in Ghent next week for their first Davis Cup final since losing to the McEnroe-inspired Americans 37 years ago. World number 16 David Goffin is a sweet ball-striker and their number two player Steve Darcis once beat Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon, but the task facing captain Leon Smith’s side, boasting world number two Andy Murray, does not compare with the challenge facing Paul Hutchins’ team in 1978. McEnroe crushed Lloyd 6-1 6-2 6-2 and was equally ruthless when he demolished Buster Mottram 6-2 6-2 6-1 to give his team a winning 3-1 lead in the second singles.
“Reaching the Davis Cup final was the highlight of my career,” Lloyd, who went on to captain the side, recalled in a BBC Radio interview this week. “And to go up against McEnroe and get annihilated and be up against genius. I saw shots that I didn’t think could be hit by another human being.” Hutchins, who captained the British 31 times and masterminded their run to the final, past a Czech team including a young Ivan Lendl and then archrivals Australia in the semis at Crystal Palace, said McEnroe already had an aura. “I knew he would be really good but never imagined that good,” he told Reuters. “Brash, confident and so talented were my thoughts sitting on the side of the court.”—Reuters
LONDON: Serbia’s Novak Djokovic returns to Spain’s Rafael Nadal during the men’s singles semi-final match on day seven of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament in London yesterday. —AFP