Murray claims the crown and the kudos with win over Djokovic
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Andy Murray posed with a posse of ball boys and ball girls on Sunday night in front of two trophies. The one with the blue ribbons was for winning the ATP Tour Finals. And the other was for ending the year as world number one.
A phalanx of photographers took the pictures of the 29-year-old Briton with his instant fan club. Murray had just been anointed as the 17th man to be top of the rankings at the close of the season.
He won the first bauble with a 6-3 6-4 victory over Novak Djokovic, the player he had displaced as circuit supremo on 7 November.
Djokovic, who had until then ruled the roost for 122 consecutive weeks, had been the favourite going into the final at the O2 Arena.
The 29-year-old had won 24 of their 34 encounters and he had claimed four consecutive championships in London. His path to the final had also been easier. Djokovic took 65 minutes to breeze past Kei Nishikori in Saturday’s semi-final while Murray had toiled for nearly four hours to dispose of Milos Raonic.
But that was Saturday. “Every day’s different,” said a phlegmatic Djokovic after his defeat. “Every day you feel different. I guess this was one of these days where I didn’t feel the ball as well as I wanted.
“I had a player who felt that I was not comfortable from one side and he kept making me play. Just too many errors.”
Murray conceded that the 35th meeting between the two had not been their most scintillating battle. There were too many mistakes, he said. “I think we have played better but the end of the match was dramatic and exciting.”
The capacity 17,000 crowd would not beg to differ. They urged, cajoled and cheered. They were mesmerised
After taking the opening set, Murray steamed his way into a 4-1 lead in the second. Serving for 5-1, he lost his momentum and his serve. Had Saturday's long match caught up with him?
When Djokovic held to trail 3-4, the question arose: would Murray collapse? He didn’t answer convincingly. He lost the first point when serving at 4-3 up but uncharacteristic mistakes from Djokovic’s backhand nudged Murray to 5-3.
Djokovic too could see the rewards and refused to fold. He held to make Murray serve for the twin titles. The Serb saved two separate match points before sending a forehand return just beyond the baseline on the third.
Murray raised his arms in triumph. The partisans hailed his first success at the end of season championships in eight visits.
“I’ve lost a lot of big matches against Novak,” said Murray. “This was a big match. I’ve never won the trophy before and I got over the line.
“I’ve often finished the year feeling down because I haven’t performed well in London at this even. To finish the year like this is great,” said Andy Murray, world number one.
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