Djokovic, who won the ATP World Tour Finals in 2008, remains on course for a second title at the elite top-eight event as he captured his 27th win in his last 30 matches, showcasing nerves of steel when it mattered the most. “A calm mind always wins. I guess that’s the answer,” stated the smiling Serb after his victory.
“It was important for me after dropping the first set to stay mentally tough and believe that I can get my opportunities and when they came to try to step in and use them. That’s what I’ve done.”
Murray commenced the match in fierce form, serving impeccably to win a jaw-dropping 100 per cent of the points on his first serve and dropping a mere three points on his second.
The Scot broke Djokovic in the very first game and cruised through the opening set without facing a single break point.
“I don’t think I played bad in the first set,” explained Djokovic. “It was him playing really well, serving extremely well.”
The third game of the second set, Murray got his hands on a break point when Djokovic’s shot clipped the net and sailed wide but the Serb responded to the disappointment with an inch-perfect forehand winner that barely touched the line, and the opportunity for Murray to edge ahead was gone.
“He hit a drive volley on the back edge of the line, so what am I to do with that? Not much,” lamented Murray after the match.
Djokovic found his chance in the sixth game when Murray made an ill-advised choice to serve-and-volley on break point down. The Scot’s volley went long which earned Djokovic a 4-2 lead and that break was enough for him to seal the set with a wide service winner on his first set point.
“There are decisions that you make in matches. If they come off, you get told you’re a genius, if you miss them, then you’re an idiot,” said Murray, defending his net approach on break point.
The third set was a titanic battle between the 25-year-olds and saw the momentum shift as many times as the umpire moved his head throughout the contest. Djokovic got the first break to inch ahead 3-1. The Australian Open champion then could have gone a double break up not once, but twice, in that deciding set but some incredible resolve from Murray kept him in the match. With those missed opportunities hanging in the air over Djokovic, it was Murray’s turn to attack and he outrallied his athletic opponent to get the break and level to 4-4 but it wasn’t without some hawk-eye drama.
The tension rose across the full-capacity arena as Djokovic found himself serving to stay in the match at 4-5 and went down 15-30 but a fearless volley helped him out of that hole.
The world No1 then upped the pressure on Murray, who managed to save a break point the following game with a 133mph clutch serve but faltered on the next break point to give Djokovic a 6-5 lead.
And Djokovic held his nerves to serve out the match despite some clever shot-making from Murray, who believes the match could have easily gone either way.
When asked about the key moment of the match Murray said: “In about the last two minutes of the match probably. He broke from 15-40 and then I had 15-40 next game and didn’t break. So that was the moment that decided the match.
“I need to make sure that regardless of how tough a match this one was today, I respond well in the next one on Friday.”
Djokovic, who now has two victories from his first two matches in London will face Tomas Berdych in his last round robin match on Friday, while Murray takes on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who has a very slim chance of qualifying to the semis after defeats to Djokovic and Berdych.