Sports

Showdown for No. 1 spot

For the first time, final match of season between Murray and Djokovic will decide top ranking

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 this morning (Singapore time), 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 (7/5), 7-6 (11/9) 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 No. 1 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 gruelling battle, including saving a match-point, also spent 3hr 20min beating Nishikori on Wednesday.

UNBEATEN RUN

Only he knows what is left in the tank for the final, 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.

For organisers 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 No. 1.

"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.

"I'm privileged to be part of history. This is one of the biggest matches we will play against each other."

Meanwhile, Murray's brother Jamie's hopes of celebrating his No. 1 doubles status with the ATP title ended as he and Bruno Soares lost to Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram, who will now face Henri Kontinen and John Peers in the final. - Reuters.

tennisnovak djokovicANDY MURRAY