Epic fight for world No. 1

> Mur­ray, Djokovic set up grip­ping fi­nal show­down in Lon­don <

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

ANDY MUR­RAY and No­vak Djokovic will slug it out for the world No. 1 rank­ing in a high-stakes fi­nal at the ATP Tour Fi­nals af­ter com­plet­ing their con­trast­ing paths to the dra­matic show­down.

Mur­ray and Djokovic’s un­prece­dented clash for pole po­si­tion will end with one of the old ri­vals fin­ish­ing the year on top of the world af­ter the Scot shat­tered his ri­val’s 122-week reign at No. 1 ear­lier this month.

Fit­tingly, they will bring the cur­tain down on the ATP sea­son with both the pres­ti­gious Tour Fi­nals ti­tle and the top spot up for grabs in the fi­nal at Lon­don’s O2 Arena.

Af­ter stag­ing a su­perb fight­back to de­feat Mi­los Raonic 5-7, 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (11/9) in Satur­day’s first semi­fi­nal, Mur­ray is just one win away from cap­ping a dream year in per­fect fash­ion.

But Djokovic can say ex­actly the same af­ter the de­fend­ing cham­pion thrashed Ja­pan’s Kei Nishikori 6-1, 6-1 in the other semi.

Djokovic, who has a 24-10 lead in his head to head with Mur­ray, said: “This is one of the big­gest matches we will ever play against each other. The match ev­ery­body an­tic­i­pated.

“This has never hap­pened in the his­tory of ten­nis. I’m priv­i­leged to be part of his­tory.

“My level had been go­ing in the right di­rec­tion. Now it’s com­ing up to the last match of the year. I hope we get a great fi­nal.”

Cru­cially, Mur­ray might be on his last legs af­ter hav­ing to sur­vive a three-hour 39-minute epic against Raonic that ranked as the long­est match in Tour Fi­nals his­tory – eclips­ing the record mark set when Mur­ray beat Nishikori in three hours and 20 min­utes on Wednesday.

While Mur­ray’s body has been pushed to its lim­its this week, Djokovic has en­joyed smooth progress to the fi­nal and, un­like his op­po­nent, the world No. 2 will be well rested fol­low­ing his 67-minute de­mo­li­tion of Nishikori.

Mur­ray, bid­ding to win the Tour Fi­nals for the first time in his maiden fi­nal ap­pear­ance, ac­knowl­edged he is feel­ing the strain of his gru­elling run.

“It was ob­vi­ously un­be­liev­ably tough. I played some great points and man­aged to get the break at the end,” Mur­ray said.

“This is one of the hard­est matches I’ve played in­doors. I didn’t ex­pect to play a long one with some­one with a serve like Mi­los.

“I’m tired. I’ve played so much ten­nis over the last few months. I’ll give it my best ef­fort, the best of what I have.”

Mur­ray’s 23rd suc­ces­sive vic­tory set a new ca­reer-best for the 29-year-old, who has been in sub­lime form since be­com­ing a father for the first time, but only a 24th would bring a fit­ting fi­nale to the best year of his life.

Djokovic has been in a pro­longed slump since win­ning the French Open for the first time in June, spark­ing ru­mours about his pri­vate life and ques­tions about his re­cent in­volve­ment with a “spir­i­tual guru”.

But the de­cline is all rel­a­tive and the 29year-old, who beat Mur­ray in the Aus­tralian and French Open fi­nals this year, has now won 22 of his last 23 matches at the Tour Fi­nals, keep­ing him on course to win the tour­na­ment for a fifth suc­ces­sive year and record-equalling sixth time in to­tal. – AFP

– AFPPIX

A com­bi­na­tion of pictures cre­ated in Lon­don yes­ter­day shows Bri­tain’s Andy Mur­ray (left) cel­e­brat­ing win­ning his semi­fi­nal against Canada’s Mi­los Raonic with the clock show­ing the match took 3 hours and 38 min­utes, the long­est match in Tour Fi­nals his­tory, and Serbia’s No­vak Djokovic (right) cel­e­brat­ing beat­ing Ja­pan’s Kei Nishikori in 1 hour and six min­utes in the sec­ond semi­fi­nal on day seven of the ATP World Tour Fi­nals ten­nis tour­na­ment in Lon­don

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