The ATP World Tour Finals is the culmination of the year in tennis, as the eight finest players in the world gather to compete for the final trophy of the season. It is a celebration of the game as well as an illustrious trophy to secure and it was announced today that it will continue to be held in London for a further two years. How lucky we are to be able to host such a wonderful tennis event for longer than expected.
Andy Murray was looking to cap a fine year by winning this title for the first time. He started well, defeating Tomas Berdych in his opening Group A match, but his second encounter ended in defeat to Novak Djokovic. The Serb, who will end the year as world number one for the second consecutive year, eventually secured a 4-6 6-3 7-5 win after numerous shifts in momentum. It was another fine match between these two incredible players.
The Murray-Djokovic rivalry is now becoming the most fiercely contested in the game. This year alone they have been involved in 7 matches, including two superb five setters - one at the Australian Open semi-final in January, and the never-to-be-forgotten US Open Final in September, which saw Murray secure his maiden Grand Slam title. As Rafa struggles with injury and Roger's consistency fluctuates as his career enters it's twilight, these two players have stepped into the limelight and produced some truly amazing spectacles. This is a rivalry one suspects will continue for the foreseeable future.
Murray started the better, hitting the ball superbly and dictating the majority of points. He broke the Djokovic serve in the opening game, secured by virtue of a stunning forehand winner on the run. Murray looked focus and was rarely troubled on serve. He was by far the better player as he took the first set 6-4.
But as so often happens in matches involving Djokovic, he fought his way back into form. Suddenly it was he was in charge of the majority points as Murray's frustrations began to get the better of him. With Djokovic looking the more focused and errors creeping into Murray's game, it was the Serb who took the set 6-3, levelling the match at one set all.
The final set was a thriller as both men fought hard to secure the victory that would pretty much guarantee their passage into the knock-out stage of the competition. It was Djokovic who broke early and raced to a 3-1 lead, before bringing up points on the Murray serve for a double-break. But Murray rarely goes down without a fight and he showed all of his famous defensive skills to remain in the match at just a break down. That hold gave Murray a much-needed injection of confidence and he eventually found a break to level the set at 4-4. It was game on now and the momentum seemed to have shifted in Murray's favour.
It was not be, though, as the pendulum swung once more in Djokovic's direction. He broke to lead 6-5 before serving out the match. He now has two wins from two and looks almost certain to go through tot he semi-finals; the point at which this tournament really gathers pace. Murray will have to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in his final group match to progress, with the chance of another Murray-Djokovic match in the final. What a fitting end to the year that would be if the two players so central to many of the greatest matches of 2012 were to continue their personal duel.