Novak Djokovic defeated Andy Murray for the second time in a month, with his 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 group win giving the Serb a perfect 2-0 record at the World Tour Finals on Wednesday.
Murray, the London crowd hero, dropped to 1-1 in the eight-man competition, with a later match scheduled between Czech Tomas Berdych and Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Both men are looking for a first victory from two matches.
Djokovic was thrilled to win: “Another great match, another great performance from both of us. I didn’t expect anything less — a tough match that went down to the wire and was decided on the last point.” Murray and hot rival Djokovic, who will finish the season as world number one, battled for more than two and a half hours in a drum-tight contest which was not decided until the last moment.
“The last two minutes of the match probably decided it,” said Murray. “He broke from 15-40 and I had 15-40 the next game and didn’t break.
“That was the moment that decided the match. I still had a chance in the third set, you would hope that one game would not decide a match.” The pair, who have now played seven times this season, last met in the October Shanghai final, in which Murray wasted five match points before losing. They also played in the London Olympic semis, with the Scot earning that victory, “Both of us probably see each other’s game well,” said Murray.
“Especially this year since we’ve played so much. You know what to expect.
“Our last few matches have been very close and decided by a few points. The intensity of my matches has been extremely high this year.” The victory gave Djokovic, his 27th win from his last 30 matches since the Games. The Serb will finish the ATP season on the top ranking for the second year in succession.
“I don’t think I played bad in the first set,” said Djokovic. “It was him playing well. Then he made some unforced errors and allowed me to get back into the match.
“It was quite even up to the last point.” Murray dropped to 9—14 against world number one players as he lost from a backhand long on match point in the struggle.
Djokovic finished with eight aces, 23 winners and overcame 40 unforced errors. The winner broke on three of seven chances, Murray gave the London crowd what they wanted in the first set, winning it on a break after Djokovic saved a set point in the ninth game, but one game later, Murray had the set to hand.
The Scot got into his first trouble of the afternoon in the second set as a he dropped serve for 2—4 on a volley error, with Djokovic sealing the set 6—3.
The match got even tighter in the final set, as Djokovic took a 2—1 lead on a break only to find himself level again on 4—4 after Murray, grimacing and talking frequently to himself, took the break back.
Djokovic then broke again for 6—5 from Murray’s agonized forehand error, with the Serb serving out the dramatic victory a game later on his first match point, a 44th Murray unforced error.