Murray survives epic to set up Djokovic showdown

Sat Nov 19, 2016 6:44pm EST
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, the dominant forces of men's tennis, will collide head-on in a fitting climax to the season at the ATP World Tour Finals on Sunday after taking vastly different paths to the title match.

Murray, who should trademark the 'tennis epic', spent three hours 38 minutes -- a tournament record -- quelling the ferocious firepower of Milos Raonic, dragging himself to a 5-7 7-6 (5) 7-6 (9) victory in a fever-pitch atmosphere at the O2 Arena.

The Scot, aiming to win a maiden Tour Finals crown and clinch the year-end world number one ranking for the first time, had barely finished his post-match news conference before Djokovic completed a 6-1 6-1 rout of Japanese Kei Nishikori.

Murray, who plunged into an ice bath after surviving his grueling battle, including saving a match point, also spent three hours 20 minutes beating Nishikori on Wednesday.

Only he knows what is left in the tank for Sunday but he is protecting a three-month unbeaten run, a streak that helped eclipse Djokovic at the top of the rankings and now stands at a career best 23 wins, with fanatical zeal.

Djokovic will be the fresher man and, after a relatively lean second half of the year, would love to snatch back top-dog status with a fifth consecutive title in Murray's backyard.

For organizers of the flagship event it is the dream scenario. It is the first time the final match of the season will decide who is ranked number one.

"This has never happened," said the Serb who has beaten Murray in five of their seven grand slam finals including in Australia and France this year.   Continued...

Britain Tennis - Barclays ATP World Tour Finals - O2 Arena, London - 19/11/16 Great Britain's Andy Murray celebrates winning his semi final match against Canada's Milos Raonic Reuters / Toby Melville Livepic