World Tour Finals title match preview and prediction: Murray vs. Djokovic

The battle is on.

For the first time in the history of the ATP Tour, a year-end No. 1 ranking will all come down to the final match of the season between the top two players in the world.

Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic will be squaring off for the 35th time in their careers when they bid for both the top spot in the rankings and the title of the World Tour Finals on Sunday. Djokovic is leading the head-to-head series 24-10, including 13-2 in their last 15 encounters dating back to the start of 2014 and 5-1 in their last six dating back to last fall.

They have faced each other four times this season, with Djokovic triumphing in the Australian Open and French Open finals in addition to the Madrid championship match. Murray’s lone victory came in the final of the Rome Masters.
Since his Roland Garros loss to Djokovic, Murray has been the man on a mission. The Scot has stolen the No. 1 ranking from his rival by winning seven of his last nine tournaments–a stretch that includes Wimbledon, the Rio Olympics, and each of this fall’s Masters events (Shanghai and Paris). He is 49-3 in his last 52 matches dating back to Queen’s Club and 23-0 in his last 23 matches overall.

Murray is 4-0 this week in London, but it certainly hasn’t been easy. In fact, he has played the two longest matches this event has seen since it moved to the O2 Arena in 2009. Murray outlasted Kei Nishikori 6-7(9), 6-4, 6-4 in three hours and 20 minutes on Wednesday and saved one match point before winning a 5-7, 7-6(5), 7-6(9) semifinal thriller against Milos Raonic that lasted three hours and 38 minutes on Saturday afternoon. He also scored more routine straight-set victories over Marin Cilic and Stan Wawrinka.
Also undefeated in London, Djokovic endured a three-setter against Dominic Thiem to begin his week and then needed two tiebreakers to scrape past Raonic. But the world No. 2 picked up the pace in a hurry to crush David Goffin 6-1, 6-2 and to clobber Nishikori 6-1, 6-1 in Saturday’s second semifinal. Nishikori had been coming off a three-set loss to Cilic on Friday night.

Now Djokovic has a date with another fatigued opponent–and with history.

“I must say that I’m very honored to be part of the history,” he commented. “I hear this is the first time in the history of the ATP that the two best players are deciding the rankings in the last match. That is something we should all be conscious of. I’m excited to go out on the court and battle.”
“I don’t know how I’ll feel tomorrow,” Murray said in his press conference. “Obviously (I’m) tired just now because it was a really hard match. Tomorrow is the last day for a while; (I) get a break after that. I’ll just give my best of what I’ve got tomorrow. Hopefully it’s enough.”

Many thought Murray’s best–which has been on display for the past five months–would be enough this week. But now he is going up against the toughest of opponents under the most difficult of circumstances. Not only has Djokovic dominated their recent head-to-head meetings, but he is also an unbelievable 23-1 in his last 24 matches at a tournament in which only the best players are invited.

To be the best you have to beat the best, and that is exactly what Djokovic has done in recent years. He will likely do it again on Sunday.

Pick: Djokovic in 2

59 Comments on World Tour Finals title match preview and prediction: Murray vs. Djokovic

    • exactly abhirf. he kind of reminds me today of watching rafa struggle with his mental problema…
      evidently it is catching…

  1. Djoko not playing well at the warm up tournaments really is hurting him now. No matter how good you are, you need match plays and wins to help you do well in the major tournaments.

    The same thing happened to Rafa last season during the clay season, not winning a single clay event before the FO and thus losing in the WF at the FO.

    Murray OTOH was winning tournaments after tournaments and so his tennis now looks so smooth and well polished. Goffin and a tired Kei made Djoko looked better than he really is/was. Murray is the first truly tough opponent for Djoko in this tournament.

    • yes! Muzz is the form player. But, it’s not like Muzz is outclassing him. It’s more like Nole outplaying himself from the match!

    • No kidding, Mark.

      Get back to yourself soon, Novak. Not time to quit yet.

      Biggest congrats to Andy Murray and his fans. Happy for Andy!

  2. Thoroughly deserving world no.1 ! Murray is a legend. Lots of work to be done by Djokovic if he is to retain his AO title.

    I say this every year and am saying this again. Never get carried away with the recency effect in tennis! According to most Novak was to be on par with Nadal or be on 13 slams and end the year as no.1. Things can change suddenly in tennis. Not saying Djokovic’s form has evaporated or something but it is a clear trend. When Nadal dominated 2010 people thought he was unstoppable.

    Let’s see what 2017 has in store for us.

    By the way, for those who might be curious, I have not been posting much as I have been really busy.

    Getting married next month 🙂

    Hope everyone is well.

  3. Let Federer come back to court first abhi and first win a 250 or too first. You straightaway hoping for no 18 which he has not in 4.5 years

  4. So Andy wins and so those who have faith in him are right. Congrats Murray, a worthy champion and YE no.1, doing it the tough way to dethrone the formidable Djoko.

    So happy for Andy Murray, when he plays like this it’s a joy to watch. Well done Murray.

    • Okay, now I get to gloat a little! I decided to go with my heart and gut and picked Andy! That’s why you go against the favorite! I didn’t risk any know bewhat on it because I don’t bet, so I could take a chance.

      I find it surprising that Novak has kind of dissembled since he won RG and the career slam and four slams in a row. He is just not the same player. Rafa fans are all too familiar with his mental struggles and also injuries. But there has been a kind of malaise about Novak in the second half of the year.

      Rafa’s problems didn’t happen after a great triumph. It was more of something building as he started getting injuries like the back and the wrists. But Novak was at the very peak of his career when he seemed to just lose the passion.

      I am happy for Andy because he’s had a long struggle and was in the shadow of Fed, Rafa and Novak for a long time.

      I want to see what happens when Fed and Rafa are in the mix again in the new year.

      • Haha same we picked the right guy lol. Logically Djoker was the right pick but I had a feeling Andy would find a way. Psyched he did!!


    You may be tired gassed and opponent maybe fresh but when you on a purple patch you just win as you have skyhigh confidence beneath your wings ..rafa proved it in AO 2009 Nole Rome 2011 and Andy today where they were expected to lose due to fatigue but still win

    Congrats Andy

  6. It’s shocking to see Gael Monfils ahead of Rafa and fed. Never thought this would ever happen

    Rafa and fed have uphill climb and task cut out next year

  7. Congrats to Muzz on finally achieving all that was considered long due for him.
    A perfect example for other tour players to follow.
    Well done!

  8. Congrats to everyone who predicted an Andy win, well done! I was rooting for him but predicted Novak would take it in 3. Delighted to be wrong!

  9. I wouldn’t be surprised if Novak quite the game soon. He looks bored with his game and the dynamics of the hand in general.

    He’s played a lot of tennis over the past 10 years.

  10. Novak Djokovic ‏@DjokerNole Nov 7
    Congratulations @andy_murray Well deserved! I am really happy to be in the same era with you ??


  11. Rob Koenig ‏@RobKoenigTennis 59m59 minutes ago
    Let’s not forget, Murray was 1 point away from NOT being year-end World number 1…..(Match point down v Raonic.)

    Another YE Career High for Milosh!!!!!


    • Wow! Raonic at #3! I must say that he gave Andy all he could handle in their match.

      He’s really come a long way. I like seeing some emotion from him these days. He used to seem so robotic on court. I also think that he has become much more than just a guy with a big serve. I was impressed with his he stayed in the match against Andy.

      Next year could prove interesting. Can Andy keep it up? Will Novak find his mojo again? What about Rafa and Fed? Then there are the young guys who have made some noise. Can one of them break through and win a slam? Raonic will have the opportunity now that he is #3.

  12. Well played Andy. The improvements he has gradually made in his game have contributed to his success, and he really has persevered to get where he is.

    As for Novak, the question I really have is how much did this loss and the loss of year end number 1 hurt? The last time a loss hurt bad, he regrouped and went on a tear. My personal opinion is that this is not the case, which is bad news for anyone who supports him. The signs were there after his French open victory, but now its not just about motivation. He needs to retool his serve and backhand, and that means significant work in the off season.

    • The last time he lost and regained no.1 was in 2014 and he wasn’t on a tear that year but it’s more to do with Rafa getting injured again. In fact 2014 was his worst performance year in the past five to six years, getting lowest ranking points among the six years from 2011-2016. Perhaps he was preparing for his wedding that year hence a bit distracted.

      He did go on a tear in 2015 but Rafa was clearly in decline (at least mentally not being as sharp or as focused) and Murray wasn’t ready to challenge him and Fed another year older!

      I think this time he will have more difficulties picking up again as he has injury issues and he’s also getting older. Djoko has to improve in every area possible (fitness, health, nutrition, all aspects of his game) and stays very focused on his game to get all the results these past few years, certainly he’ll reach a point when he feels he may be reaching his limit and enough is enough. It takes a mammoth effort from him to get to Fedal’s level and be an ATG like them. I doubt he could carry on like that non stop. Like Fedal, he may be on the downward slope now.

      • The last time a loss hurt bad was the FO 2015. The rest is history, you could argue that 2011 and 2013 were the only years in which more than 1 of the 4 were close to their best.

  13. Once again, Novak is facing marriage issues, wanted a divorce and who knows he might end up leaving his family as Wawa did….he is one unhappy fellow out there..he lacks emotions, he doesn’t seem motivated, he looks like a skeleton and his wife looks gloomy and distant…one doesn’t enjoy tennis in such circumstances.,,
    I am more than convinced that Boris will be fired and Novak will seek solutions to get back to his best, but without peace and happiness in his personal life, Novak will not be able to recover…and the guru and his mantra won’t help I think, there is more to it…time will tell…
    BTW, I really agree with Raonic who said Andy was true No1 no matter what happened on the finals…Andy deserves this after all he has done but quite honestly Novak was just a shadow in this match, he played such an uninspiring tennis.,,
    Hope they all regroup and come back strong in 2017! I really hope my Rafa is back to winning streak!

    • Natashao I saw his wife in stands..why would she come if there was a divorce on the cards..I thought it was sorted out.

      Coming to Boris he sure will be booted. He and Novak have already maxed what they could achieve together .

    • I don’t see how Andy would have been the true no.1 had he lost, but it is clear now that he has been a better player than Novak by miles since the French. As for Boris, I don’t know what his purpose in the Djokovic team was, but if his role was technical/tactical (from some of the coaching sessions I have seen, this is probably true) – then I don’t see how Boris can be completely redundant.

      Novak’s decline is not a function of another player reaching such spectacular heights that his own game or set of tactics need to be changed. He needs to play at the level he used to, its as simple as that. To me, the feature of his game through 2015 was the serve and his timing. Both these things have gradually declined this year.

      If the issue is physical, there is not much that can be done unfortunately except hope and work towards full recovery. If it is mental or motivational, which I suspect it is, then there’s not much that can be done either.

      • Agreed. By definition (i.e., points) there is no doubt he is.

        Had he lost the final and No. 1, I disagree with Milosh and not sure of his reasoning.

        Any had a slam, Olympic Gold but Nole had four Masters Titles to Andy’s three, plus completed the Grand Slam hoding all four slams after winning the French.

        So, for me, no comparison had Nole won yesterday.

  14. Well, it’s a small country so rumors or facts are spread all over…The media may be speculating about it but obviously given Novak’s game he is not back to his normal self yet…apparently, he wanted a divorce but it would have costed him a fortune and he also decided to give it a try again. He is very supportive of his wife lately but she does not seem to be over the affair issue just yet. I really hope they put it all behind and move on. They are very nice couple. Deepika can find someone else to play with.,,
    She was on the stands as they are working to resolve the issues but it takes time and effort.,,I also know for sure that Nole’s parents do not speak to Jelena.,,she never sits with them in the same box.,,anyway, hope it’s all resolved sooner than later…Novak needs serenity to play his best tennis again…

    • Well, if he was responsible for the affair, then surely its up to him to resolve things? But then again, was there really an affair? It seems very unlike someone who was laser sharp with his focus through that period to have had a major distraction such as this. But then again, we have seen Tiger Woods, so who knows?

    • natashao,

      This is the first that I have heard any specifics about novsk’s personal problems. I had never idea of all that has gone on. Did he have an affair? It’s shocking to hear that he wanted a divorce. I also did not know that novak’s parents do not get along with Jelena.

      No wonder Novak has not been himself!

  15. I thought Djoko adores Yelena; I think the affair is just a rumour. They already have a son, why would he want to ruin a happy family?

    • He might not have wanted to do it consciously, of course, but then again the pressures of pro tennis are not for everybody. Even someone who handled it impeccably for years such as Sampras succumbed to burnout.

      And in today’s environment, it is hard not to fall victim to things that can derail you. When you are in Djokovic’s position, there are a lot of people who want a piece of you, and the laser sharp almost inhuman focus week in week out can lead you to doing strange things.

      In any case, the reason I think this is merely a rumour is because he allegedly had an affair with an Indian actress at the height of her popularity. Something tells me it would have been even bigger news in India, and it is not.

      • Yeah, I wish you were right, but from what I heard from his close relatives it was more than a rumor. I agree that being famous brings all sorts of adversity…these things happen…and they are hardly, if ever, justifiable…
        They may overcome this and grow stronger. Wawa couldn’t and it is one of the reasons why I dislike him. We shall see about Novak. I hope it’s all behind them now…and hope we never talk about this issue again..,

        • I think it reminds us just how well Fed and Rafa dealt with their fame and prominence in the sport. They faced the same pressures that Novak did and handled themselves well.

          With Rafa the big crisis involved his parents getting divorced. He is so close with his family, so that hit him hard. But Fed and Rafa have kept their private life to themselves and avoided scandal.

          I am still very surprised to hear about Novak’s affair and marital problems. He and Jelena have a beautiful son and should be enjoying his success and their family. It’s a shame that there has to be this turmoil in his life.

          • I feel it’s the media doing their job of dramatizing every little thing. I mean I saw a pic of him and that actress siting in the same car after getting out from a LA club but that doesn’t prove a thing. I mean socializing is perfectly normal for famous people like them. Djoko, imo, is a fun loving person, so having a bit of fun socializing is nothing abnormal.

            I mean these people go clubbing right? They are normal people like us and have their own lives to live away from the tennis court. Rafa have pics with ever eager fans and esp the female ones who cling so close to him, but that don’t mean he’s flirting with them right?

            I like both Fed and Rafa’s teams being so close to them. Rafa always has his whole team around him during tournaments; when he’s back at Mallorca, he goes clubbing with his friends. In that small town everyone knows everyone and so if Rafa has an affair with anyone, news of it would spread quickly but so far so good for him.

            I guess Rafa’s team, esp Toni, is very protective over him and they’re with him always during tournaments, unless Xisca is here with him. Fed’s wife Mirka, is always there during his tournaments, unless it’s the Asian swing where his family normally doesn’t travel there.

            Murray’s mum is usually there court side and I do feel she being a coach herself, would be very supportive of him in his tennis career and so that may help in having him stayed more focused in his tennis career. His wife and father in law (a tennis coach himself) are also very supportive.

            • I must add that I feel Djoko calls the shot in his team, in his own life too, so I feel his team or his parents won’t have much influence in his private life.

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