TENNIS: Djokovic does it again

Novak Djokovic Def. Andy Murray 5-7, 7-6, 6-3

For so long Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal provided sports fans with an epic rivalry in numerous finals.  In Shanghai, at the penultimate Masters1000 event of the year, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have shown that they can also produce sublime tennis.

What a match!  It had everything a tennis match should have.  Aces, passing shots, drop shots, long rallies, the breaking of service games and even the breaking of racquets.  In a repeat of the US Open final the current number two and number three ranked players in the world delivered high quality tennis from start to finish.

Djokovic was in his sixth consecutive hard court final and recently came off a solid win in Beijing the week before.  Murray is having his best year and looking for a third consecutive title in Shanghai.

Both players got off to a very nervous start with numerous breaks of serve in the opening set.  The returning games of each player was impressive and they were putting considerable pressure on the second serves.

Djokovic and Murray came into the final with over 80% of points won when the first serve was put in play for the entire tournament.  However, they were each well below 40% in the first set.  Murray found his composure and was able to hold off a determined Djokovic by claiming the first set 7-5.

Murray started the second set very well and was able to avoid loose errors.  He raced to a 5-3 lead and served for the match.  However, in typical Djokovic fashion unless Murray was able to hit an outright winner Djokovic was going to hit himself out of trouble.

Unbelievably at 0-30 down in the tenth game Djokovic gave fans an unforgettable highlight with a between the legs shot.  The crowd became heavily involved and Djokovic gained enormous confidence.  After getting the break back Djokovic levelled the match 5-5 and made sure that it would go the distance.

Some long, gruelling rallies were soon to follow and both players had to rely on a tiebreaker to resolve the second set.  Although it seemed obvious that Murray was ruing previous missed opportunities.  

The tiebreaker went blow for blow but no one thought that it would reach the heights of their tiebreaker played at this year’s US Open final, which Murray won 12-10.  At 9-9 and again more opportunities from both players to either win the match or take it to a decider, the drama truly unfolded.  Going for approximately 20 minutes, Djokovic claimed the second set in spectacular style which proved unfortunate for Murray’s racquet.

Going into the third set Djokovic clearly had the upper hand physically was mentally buoyed with the opportunity of coming from match point behind, yet again.  At 3-3 Murray’s footwork was not evident.  He added more pace onto the ball and shortening the points to conserve his energy.

Djokovic could clearly see that he was on top of his opponent and was able to capitalise on this.  He started to negate the impact of the Murray backhand and use his off-forehand to get the upper hand in the point.

By simply allowing Murray to make countless errors towards the end of the match, Djokovic claimed the final set 6-3 and added to his Beijing Open title the previous week.

The final Masters 1000 will be in Paris at the end of the month and finally the big one, the World Tour Finals in November.      


Sean Munaweera is a Sport Journalism student at La Trobe University.  Follow his in depth analysis on Tennis, AFL and other sports on Twitter: @sean_muna


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