Djokovic ‘re­ju­ve­nated’ by Mur­ray top-spot bat­tle

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

NO­VAK DJOKOVIC ad­mits that Andy Mur­ray’s dra­matic last­gasp as­sault on his world No. 1 rank­ing has re­ju­ve­nated a sea­son which was limp­ing into medi­ocrity for the 12-time ma­jor win­ner.

Djokovic has suf­fered a wor­ry­ing dip in form since win­ning his first French Open and com­plet­ing the ca­reer Grand Slam in June.

He had a shock early loss at Wim­ble­don fol­lowed by a firstround exit at the Olympics and a run­ners-up spot at the US Open.

But as the 29-year-old prepares to de­fend the Paris Masters ti­tle he has won for the past three years, he in­sists Mur­ray’s charge for the top has pro­vided the fresh im­pe­tus he needs.

“It makes me want to go on court and fight for ev­ery point be­cause there is some­thing to win at the end,” Djokovic said, adding he felt “re­ju­ve­nated and re­gen­er­ated”.

If Djokovic reaches next Sun­day’s fi­nal in Paris he will re­tain the world No. 1 rank­ing that he has held for 122 weeks straight, no mat­ter what Mur­ray does in the French cap­i­tal.

But if he fails to make the cham­pi­onship match, then Mur­ray will be­come the No. 1 as long as the Bri­tish star wins the ti­tle. Andy Mur­ray re­turns a shot dur­ing his fi­nal match against Jo-Wil­fried Tsonga at the ATP Erste Bank Open tour­na­ment in Vi­enna, Aus­tria on Sun­day.

The 29-year-old Bri­ton took a step closer to the top spot on Sun­day by win­ning the Vi­enna ATP ti­tle.

“Andy is play­ing maybe the best ten­nis he’s ever played. He def­i­nitely de­serves to be in the po­si­tion to fin­ish up the year as num­ber one. Whether or not that’s go­ing to hap­pen, it doesn’t de­pend only on him. It de­pends on me as well,” said Djokovic.

“I just try to work on my game these days and I know if I’m on the level I de­sire, I can chal­lenge any­body or beat any­body.”

Djokovic, who has ad­mit­ted “pri­vate is­sues” con­trib­uted to his sum­mer slump – he has not said what those were – be­lieves Paris is the per­fect place to re­vive his for­tunes on his re­turn to the French cap­i­tal.

“Win­ning Roland Gar­ros this year gave me a lot of joy but it re­quired a lot of en­ergy. I felt a lit­tle ex­hausted af­ter and I was a lit­tle less mo­ti­vated,” said the Serb, who hasn’t played since a semi­fi­nal de­feat to Roberto Bautista Agut in the Shang­hai Masters in mid-Oc­to­ber.

“I took a lit­tle time to think about all these things, to find a new mo­ti­va­tion and a new am­bi­tion. It’s in place. I feel good. I’m happy to come back here to Paris. I hope to have a good week.”

Djokovic has a bye in the first round at the Paris Masters be­fore fac­ing ei­ther Ni­co­las Al­ma­gro or Gilles Muller.

In Vi­enna, Mur­ray swept past French­man Jo-Wil­fried Tsonga 6-3, 7-6 (8/6) to earn his sev­enth ti­tle of the year and ramp up the pres­sure on Djokovic.

The Olympic and Wim­ble­don cham­pion took his re­cent run to 15 straight vic­to­ries, in which he has picked up the China Open and Shang­hai Masters ti­tles as well.

He now has 42 ca­reer ti­tles and a sec­ond in Vi­enna, af­ter also win­ning in 2014.

“I think I played my best ten­nis of the tour­na­ment to­day,” said Mur­ray.

Like Djokovic, Mur­ray too has a first-round bye in Paris and will face ei­ther Fer­nando Ver­dasco or Robin Haase in his open­ing match. – AFP


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