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Andy Murray Finishes the Year as Number One

Posted on: December 20th, 2016

The 2016 tennis season came to a close with last month’s ATP World Tour Finals, and it certainly provided all the tension and excitement we’ve come to expect from a season finale.

Heading into this year’s finals, all eyes were on newly crowned world number one Andy Murray. Fresh off a history-making championship win in Paris, which saw him become the first British world number one since the introduction of computerised rankings in 1973, Murray looked to take the next step and finish off the year in the top spot.

To cap off 2016, we’re taking a look at how Murray clinched his ranking at the ATP World Finals in London, battling against long time friend – and rival – Novak Djokovic.

Making history

Andy Murray is no stranger to breaking records and making history. He became the first Brit in 77 years to win Wimbledon back in 2013, and was the first male tennis player to retain an Olympic singles title.

With world number one status added to that list, Murray entered the ATP World Finals with the singular goal of starting 2017 as the best in the world.

That wasn’t going to be simple, however, with a hungry Novak Djokovic looking to regain his position atop the rankings – one he had previously held for 122 consecutive weeks before Murray had ended the reign in early November.

Murray Vs Djokovic

Perhaps predictably, Murray final obstacle of the year came in the form of Novak Djokovic, and the two contested the right to world number one in front of an eager crowd in London. This was a tournament that Murray had failed to win before, and one that Djokovic was looking to win for the fifth year in a row. It was the ideal way to end the 2016 season, and the stakes were as high as they could possibly be.

Djokovic had enjoyed domination during the first half of the 2016 season, but had fell off the pace in the latter half, while Murray began to come into his own.

While Djokovic put in a monumental effort during the final, a slew of early mistakes and Murray’s overall sharpness were enough to give the Scot the win in straight sets, beating Djokovic 6-3, 6-4 at the O2 arena.

Djokovic didn’t have the greatest game of his career, which was a disappointment after he’d regained some form leading up to the final clash, but he still made things tough for Murray. A late-game Djokovic revival tested Murray at the death, but the two-time Olympic gold medalist remained strong. He persisted through three championship points before his Serbian opponent sent a forehand sailing wide and long, finally giving Murray one of the most valuable wins of his career.

Aftermath

The win gave Murray exactly what he was looking for, a secure hold on the world No.1 spot until 2017. He finishes the year with 12,685 points, a healthy lead over rank two Djokovic’s 11,780.

Much of tennis is about mental strength, and this win will help to maintain Murray’s confidence as he prepares for the imminent January challenges. After the final, Djokovic was quick to give credit to Murray, admitting that he was nowhere near his best despite playing stronger near the end.

“Andy is definitely number one in the world,” stated Djokovic. “He is the best player, he deserved to win.”

New year, new season

This historic victory sets up the 2017 season perfectly, and will be a source of motivation for both players. Murray will be more driven than ever to stay at the top of the pack and prove himself as the best player in the world, while Djokovic can use this loss to help him recapture the form he enjoyed in the first half of 2016.

Murray and Djokovic will no doubt face off against each other soon, with their highly competitive rivalry looking set to continue throughout the new season.

Andy Murray has worked incredibly hard to climb the top of the professional tennis mountain, and the 29 year old is now in prime position to add to his three grand slam titles. The Australian Open is the first major tournament of 2017, taking place at the end of January, so while Britain’s first world number one in decades can be immensely proud of his achievement, he doesn’t have long until he has to put in the work to defend it.

 

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