LONDON: Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic will slug it out for the world number one ranking in a high-stakes final at the ATP Tour Finals after completing their contrasting paths to the dramatic showdown.
Murray and Djokovic’s unprecedented clash for pole position will end with one of the old rivals finishing the year on top of the world after the Scot shattered his rival’s 122-week reign at number one earlier this month.
Fittingly, they will bring the curtain down on the ATP season with both the prestigious Tour Finals title and the top spot up for grabs in Sunday’s (Monday in Manila) final at London’s O2 Arena.
After staging a superb fightback to defeat Milos Raonic 5-7, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (9) in Saturday’s (Sunday in Manila) first semifinal, Murray is just one win away from capping a dream year in perfect fashion.
But Djokovic can say exactly the same after the defending champion thrashed Japan’s Kei Nishikori 6-1, 6-1 in the other semi.
Crucially, Murray might be on his last legs after having to survive a three-hour 39-minute epic against Raonic that ranked as the longest match in Tour Finals history — eclipsing the record mark set when Murray beat Nishikori in three hours and 20 minutes on Wednesday.
While Murray’s body has been pushed to its limits this week, Djokovic has enjoyed smooth progress to the final and, unlike his opponent, the world number two will be well rested following his 67-minute demolition of Nishikori.
Murray, bidding to win the Tour Finals for the first time in his maiden final appearance, acknowledged he is feeling the strain of his gruelling run.
“It was obviously unbelievably tough. I played some great points and managed to get the break at the end,” Murray said.
“This is one of the hardest matches I’ve played indoors. I didn’t expect to play a long one with someone with a serve like Milos.
“I’m tired. I’ve played so much tennis over the last few months. I’ll give it my best effort, the best of what I have.”