Saturday, November 19, 2016

2016 ATP YEC Final: Djokovic-Murray XXXV To Decide Year-End #1 Ranking

The race for the year-end #1 comes down to a historic meeting between world #1 Andy Murray and World #2 Novak Djokovic in the very last  tour match of the year! After playing against each other in two major finals (2016 Australian Open and 2016 French Open) this year the two will play their 35 career ATP match in the final of the 2016 ATP year-end championship. Murray is playing in his very first ATP Tour Finals final while Djokovic is trying to win his 6th year-end championship and for the fifth consecutive year!

Murray has won his last 23 matches in a row, which has led him to a career-high #1 ranking but in the last six months where he has been ascendant (winning Wimbledonthe Rio Olympics singles gold medal and multiple Masters shields) he has not had to face any other members of the big Four (Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were injured and Djokovic was curiously  unproductive this fall). However, in his semifinal match, Murray played an intense 3-hour-38-minute match with Milos Raonic (who will end the year at World #3), saving 1 match point in the third-set tiebreaker and winning 5-7 7-6(5) 7-6(9) in what some are calling one of the best matches of the year. (It was the longest match ever at the year-ending championship, a record that Murray had set just a round before when he won another epic match in 3-hours-21 minutes against Nishikori. In contrast, Djokovic dismantled World #5 Kei Nishikori 6-1 6-1 in just over 66 minutes to get the right to retake the World #1 ranking and end the year at the top for the third consecutive year.

I'm glad that this is a 3-set match. Despite the fact that Djokovic has a 24-10 head-to-head record and appears to be playing some of his best tennis right now I still think this is Murray's best chance to beat him in a long time. It should be noted that 2 of the 3 major finals Murray has one he did it over Djokovic. But it will not be easy. I think the more likely result is a straight sets win by Djokovic. If Murray wins the first set, then I think he has a slightly better than 50% chance to win the match. But Djokovic has beaten Murray in all 4 indoor hard court matches they have played and leads him 3-1 in the four finals they played so far this year.

MadProfessah's pick: Djokovic.

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