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Australian Open 2012: Novak Djokovic reached quarter-finals after beating Stanislas Wawrinka in five sets

Djokovic survives scare from Swiss No 2 Wawrinka as he comes through early morning marathon

By
Mike Dickson

PUBLISHED:

14:43 GMT, 20 January 2013

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UPDATED:

19:07 GMT, 20 January 2013

It was 1.42am when we saw the shirt ripped off and Novak Djokovic reveal that increasingly familiar torso – the sight which says: ‘You just can’t beat me’.

Stanislas Wawrinka had played like a raging bull for five hours and two minutes, cutting and thrusting with a brutal forehand and elegant backhand. Still it was not enough to finish off a competitor whose spirit makes him stand alongside the greats of the game.

An astonishing half-volleyed paddle at a sharp angle delivered the final blow and Djokovic had made it into the last eight of the Australian Open with a 1-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-7, 12-10 victory against the No 15 seed.

Time to relax: Novak Djokovic tweeted this picture of his post-match massage after seeing off Stanislas Wawrinka in an epic five-setter

Time to relax: Novak Djokovic tweeted this picture of his post-match massage after seeing off Stanislas Wawrinka in an epic five-setter

 Djokovic celebrated in his usual manner, ripping his shirt off after taking the fifth set 12-10

Winner: Djokovic celebrated in his usual manner, ripping his shirt off after taking the fifth set 12-10

It took until the early hours of the morning for Djokovic and Wawrinka to complete their five-set marathon

Tired: It took until the early hours of the morning for these two to complete their five-set marathon

Wawrinka won the fourth set tie-break and broke early in the second set, but Djokovic came back to win

Wawrinka won the fourth set tie-break and broke early in the second set, but Djokovic came back to win

So close: Wawrinka won the fourth set tie-break and broke early in the second set, but Djokovic came back to win

The Swiss had been given a fairly easy ride so far, but the World No 1 was always going to be a tough challenge

Shock to the system: The Swiss had been given a fairly easy ride so far, but the World No 1 was always going to be a tough challenge

January is not done, but already there
is a contender for match of the year and, unquestionably, the match of
the year’s first Grand Slam. The 25 year-old Serb is through to face
Tomas Berdych and how much of a toll this has taken remains to be seen.

Last year he managed to rebound from a
match of four hours, 50 minutes against Andy Murray in the last four to
overcome Rafael Nadal and win the final in five hours, 53 minutes. So
there is no reason for the 27-year-old Czech powerhouse to think that
some of the work has been done for him.

Murray’s effort in the US Open final,
when he emphatically put Djokovic away in the fifth set and caused him
to severely cramp, was left looking all the more impressive by the
Serb’s typical refusal to submit and the way his body held up.

The 25-year-old Scot was this morning
due to play Gilles Simon, who featured in another late-night epic on
Saturday against compatriot Gael Monfils, although that was not in the
same bracket of quality as this five- part drama.

Wawrinka, Switzerland’s eternal
bridesmaid to Roger Federer, did everything but win this match and again
showed that he is capable of causing extreme discomfort to the very
best players if they are slightly below their top level.

The Serb is attempting to win his third consecutive Australian Open, which no man has managed before

Big dreams: The Serb is attempting to win his third consecutive Australian Open, which no man has managed before

There were five deuces in Wawrinka's final service game, and the Swiss played a stunning final rally, but Djokovic was just too good

There were five deuces in Wawrinka's final service game, and the Swiss played a stunning final rally, but Djokovic was just too good

Shattered: There were five deuces in Wawrinka's final service game, and the Swiss played a stunning final rally, but Djokovic was just too good

Djokovic felt that his experience of
these situations was the difference. ‘In the end these kind of matches
help your confidence, they are what you live for and practise for,’ he
said.

‘I had a flashback of the 2012 finals.
I feel sorry that one of us had to lose, but I am just thrilled that I
was able to fight up until the last moment.’

That Wawrinka cannot quite deliver the
knockout punch explains why he has spent much of his career just
outside the top 10. ‘It was the best match I have ever played and the
worst I’ve ever felt afterwards,’ he said. ‘I fought like a dog.’ He
will look upon the four break points he created at 4-4 in the deciding
set and ponder how he failed to make one count, particularly the last of
them.

That was when he drilled an unplayable
service return onto the baseline only for the line judge to mistakenly
call it out. Wawrinka had one Hawkeye challenge left but neglected to
use it. Umpire Enrique Molina declined to over-rule and his foe escaped.

Whether he would have gone on to serve
out the match we will never know and such is Djokovic’s capacity to get
himself out of scrapes that it cannot be assumed.

Djokovic has won the last two titles
here and, with the exception of September’s defeat in New York, not
lost in one of the hard-court Grand Slams since 2010.

Djokovic will face Czech Tomas Berdych in the quarters, after Berdych beat South African Kevin Anderson in straight sets

Quarter-finals: Djokovic will face Czech Tomas Berdych in the quarters, after Berdych beat South African Kevin Anderson in straight sets

had Wawrinka challenged a call, he would have been serving for the match

Lucky: had Wawrinka challenged a call, he would have been serving for the match

The final set ended as the clock approached 2am in Australia

The final set ended as the clock approached 2am in Australia

Exhausting: The final set ended as the clock approached 2am in Australia

It took more than five hours for the pair to finish their match in the Australian heat

Thrilling: It took more than five hours for the pair to finish their match in the Australian heat

His game is perfectly suited to absorb
what is thrown at him in this environment and the barrel-chested
Wawrinka hurled everything he could.

By the end it seemed a distant detail
that Djokovic had hardly helped himself by coming out with a defective
pair of shoes that caused him to slip all over the place in the first
set when faced with Wawrinka’s devastating start.

The Swiss took the first set in 25
minutes and served for the second at 5-3, by which time one of the
Serb’s gophers had brought him some new footwear. By then Wawrinka’s
certainty had faded and it could have all been over in the fourth set
but, unusually, his trademark backhand was more than backed up by
everything else in his game.

Only in the 24th game of the fifth set
did he crack and Djokovic clinched it on a third match point to the
delight of a Melbourne crowd who, not for the first time here, had
ignored thoughts of work to come later in the day.

Roger Federer is on in the same late
evening slot today against the powerful Canadian Milos Raonic as he
attempts to reach his 35th consecutive quarter final at a Grand Slam.

He will do so knowing that big danger still lurks in the other side of the draw – as hard to put away as ever.

Australian Open 2013: Latest results

Australian Open 2013: All the latest results from Melbourne Park

UPDATED:

07:24 GMT, 14 January 2013

Keep track of all the latest results from the Australian Open with our complete guide to the singles.

Australian Open seeds

Australian Open seeds

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WOMEN

FIRST ROUND

Tim Smyczek (USA) bt Ivo Karlovic (Cro) 6-4 7-6 (7-5) 7-5

Somdev Devvarman (Ind) bt Bjorn Phau (Ger) 6-3 6-2 6-3

Tobias Kamke (Ger) bt Flavio Cipolla (Ita) 6-1 6-4 6-1

(22) Fernando Verdasco (Spa) bt David Goffin (Bel) 6-3 3-6 4-6 6-3 6-4

(1) Novak Djokovic (Ser) bt Paul-Henri Mathieu (Fra) 6-2 6-4 7-5

Ryan Harrison (USA) bt Santiago Giraldo (Col) 2-6 6-4 7-5 6-4

Edouard Roger-Vasselin (Fra) bt Ruben Bemelmans (Bel) 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 2-6 7-5 11-9

(5) Tomas Berdych (Cze) bt Michael Russell (USA) 6-3 7-5 6-3

(26) Jurgen Melzer (Aut) bt Mikhail Kukushkin (Kaz) 6-1 6-1 6-2

Evgeny Donskoy (Rus) bt Adrian Ungur (Rom) 6-4 6-4 6-2

Daniel Gimeno-Traver (Spa) bt Lukasz Kubot (Pol) 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-0 4-6 6-4

Carlos Berlocq (Arg) bt Maxime Authom (Bel) 1-6 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-4) 6-2

(10) Nicolas Almagro (Spa) bt Steve Johnson (USA) 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 6-7 (6-8) 6-2

(15) Stanislas Wawrinka (Swi) bt Cedrik-Marcel Stebe (Ger) 6-2 6-4 6-3

(16) Kei Nishikori (Jpn) bt Victor Hanescu (Rom) 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-1 6-3

Guillaume Rufin (Fra) bt Julian Reister (Ger) 4-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 6-2

(32) Julien Benneteau (Fra) bt Grigor Dimitrov (Bul) 6-4 6-2 6-4

Xavier Malisse (Bel) bt Pablo Andujar (Spa) 6-3 6-1 6-2

Jie Zheng (Chn) bt Yuxuan Zhang (Chn) 6-1 3-6 6-4

(15) Dominika Cibulkova (Svk) bt Ashleigh Barty (Aus) 3-6 6-0 6-1

(11) Marion Bartoli (Fra) bt Anabel Medina Garrigues (Spa) 6-2 6-4

Valeria Savinykh (Rus) bt Mandy Minella (Lux) 7-6 (7-4) 6-1

(5) Angelique Kerber (Ger) bt Elina Svitolina (Ukr) 6-2 6-4

Maria Joao Koehler (Por) bt Karin Knapp (Ita) 3-6 6-3 6-3

Irina-Camelia Begu (Rom) bt Arantxa Rus (Ned) 6-4 6-2

Alize Cornet (Fra) bt Marina Erakovic (Nzl) 7-5 6-7 (3-7) 10-8

Misaki Doi (Jpn) bt Petra Martic (Cro) 6-3 6-4

(22) Jelena Jankovic (Ser) bt Johanna Larsson (Swe) 6-2 6-2

(23) Klara Zakopalova (Cze) bt Chanelle Scheepers (Rsa) 6-1 6-2

Kirsten Flipkens (Bel) bt Nina Bratchikova (Rus) 6-4 6-3

(19) Ekaterina Makarova (Rus) bt Michelle Larcher De Brito (Por) 6-2 7-5

(9) Samantha Stosur (Aus) bt Kai-Chen Chang (Tpe) 7-6 (7-3) 6-3

(4) Agnieszka Radwanska (Pol) bt Bojana Bobusic (Aus) 7-5 6-0

Romina Oprandi (Swi) bt Tsvetana Pironkova (Bul) 4-6 7-5 6-2
Olga Govortsova (Blr) bt Pauline Parmentier (Fra) 2-6 6-3 6-2

(18) Julia Goerges (Ger) bt Vera Dushevina (Rus) 7-5 2-6 6-4

(27) Sorana Cirstea (Rom) bt Coco Vandeweghe (USA) 6-4 6-2

(6) Na Li (Chn) bt Sesil Karatantcheva (Kaz) 6-2 6-3

Kristyna Pliskova (Cze) bt Sacha Jones (Aus) 6-3 6-2

(25) Venus Williams (USA) bt Galina Voskoboeva (Kaz) 6-1 6-0

(2) Maria Sharapova (Rus) bt Olga Puchkova (Rus) 6-0 6-0

Berdych holds his nerve as Czechs draw level against Spain in Davis Cup final

Berdych holds his nerve as Czechs draw level against Spain in Davis Cup final

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UPDATED:

23:25 GMT, 16 November 2012

Prior to the Davis Cup final Tomas Berdych described Nicolas Almagro as the 'weak link' of Spain, and those words so nearly came back to dramatically bite him as the opening Friday nearly spilled into Saturday.

With the clock approaching midnight the Czech No 1 finally surpressed the game challenge of Almagro to level the match at 1-1 with three to play, but having spurned so many chances to finish it off he could nearly have ended up embarrassed.

Delight: Tomas Berdych celebrates after beating Nicolas Almagro

Delight: Tomas Berdych celebrates after beating Nicolas Almagro

Almagro, who has a modest indoor record and only just gained selection over Feliciano Lopez, came close to changing the whole course of the final before going down 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-7 6-3 in three hours and 58 minutes.

Eventually he had the 02 Arena, packed with nearly 14,000 supporters, in raptures but through the course of the evening they were severely worried by his inability to put the Spaniard away.

They began the day by parading the old Czechoslovakian Davis Cup team that won the competition in 1980, including Ivan Lendl on a rare trip back to his homeland.

But what is now known as the Czech Republic, since splitting with Slovakia, was no nearer emulating the triumph of 32 years ago, and Almagro may already have done his team a major service by keeping Berdych out on the court so long and until so late.

One of the joys of the Davis Cup is that doubles, the most popular recreational form of the game, emerges from the shadow of professional singles to play such an important part in matches, and that will be absolutely the case today.

Czech mates: Berdych and his team celebrate

Czech mates: Berdych and his team celebrate

This afternoon's encounter between what is expected to be the Czech team of Berdych and Radek Stepanek versus specialist team Marc Granollers and Marc Lopez, who took the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals title on Monday, looks too close to call and could determine the whole outcome of the match.

The question is how much the opening singles will have taken out of Berdych, who was left with precious little time to turn round thanks to the 4pm start which is always prone to cause a late finish.

There was no great surprise in the outcome of the opening rubber, a 6-3 6-4 6-4 win for David Ferrer, even though a less determined character than the world number five might have succumbed to the circumstances ranged against him.

The Czechs have laid down what would be termed a fast indoor hard court by today's sluggish standards, although not many years ago it would have been considered no more than vaguely brisk in terms of speed.

The move is designed to assist the more aggressive tendencies of the home players and hurt the more baseline-reliant Spaniards, but Ferrer, who gave Andy Murray such a tough match at Wimbledon, has matured into such an all-round player that it hardly bothered him.

Czech Republic's Tomas Berdych

Czech Republic's Tomas Berdych

Nor did the fact that this was his 90th singles match of the season, and his fourth event in four weeks, having won in Valencia and Paris and been unlucky to miss out on the semi-finals in London. He simply never seems to get tired, physically or mentally.

Stepanek, now 34 and ranked 32 places lower at 37 in the world, simply had to get a good start and ignite the crowd in the O2 Arena, which looks like it could have been tailor-made to host tennis.

He started well enough before getting into difficulty in what turned out to be among the longest individual games of recent seasons, the sixth, which lasted 24 minutes and contained eleven deuces.

It began with him serving two double faults – his serve was his weakest suit throughout – but he eventually squeezed himself out of it to stay level, in what might have proved a considerable psychological blow to the Spaniard

Instead Ferrer just got on with his business, as he does, and quickly broke before holding on to the set. When he broke in the first game of the second set the die appeared to have been cast with five consecutive games. His biggest problem was converting break points, and at one point he had created 19 and taken only two of them.

Sore point: Spain's Nicolas Almagro, center, argues the umpire

Sore point: Spain's Nicolas Almagro, center, argues the umpire

Stepanek, with is elegant caress of the ball, did manage to break back but could never hold on to any momentum and was unable to provide his team with an upset, going down in two hours and 58 minutes. “I returned serve very well, that was crucial,” said Ferrer, now 22-4 in the Davis Cup and still enjoying the season of his life.

Berdych looked like he was going to finish Almagro off when he went ahead to 3-1 in the fourth, but was hauled back to a tiebreak which he lost 7-5, leading to a decider in what was surely a must-win rubber for the home side.

The Czech is not known for having the strongest nerve, and he went ahead again for 4-2 in the fifth, only to be broken back immediately. At 4-4 he then created three break points, and on the last of them slapped away a cross court backhand. Almagro appealed the call to Hawk-Eye, which showed that it had just clipped the line.

Finally he served it out with sufficient ease to ensure that this was not a tale of the unexpected – it was always likely that this 100th edition of the Davis Cup was going to be decided over the course of the weekend.

LIVE: Andy Murray v Roger Federer: Score from ATP World Tour finals at O2 Arena

Andy Murray v Roger Federer: Latest score from the ATP Tour Finals at the O2 Arena with Djokovic awaiting winner in the final

PUBLISHED:

17:45 GMT, 11 November 2012

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UPDATED:

19:51 GMT, 11 November 2012

… and Djokovic awaits in the final

Full report: Novak Djokovic reaches final

US Open and Olympic champion Andy Murray will battle world No 2 Roger Federer for a place in the ATP World Tour Finals at London's O2 Arena.

Murray has so far beaten Thomas Berdych and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and lost to Novak Djokovic as he attempts to end a stunning year on a high note.

The winner of the match will face Novak Djokovic after the world No 1 overcame Juan Martin del Potro in three sets earlier today.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LIVE SCORE

Handy Andy: Murray is battling for a place in the final at the ATP World Tour

Handy Andy: Murray is battling for a place in the final at the ATP World Tour

Andy Murray v Roger Federer: Follow the score

Andy Murray v Roger Federer: Follow the latest from the ATP Tour finals

PUBLISHED:

17:45 GMT, 11 November 2012

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UPDATED:

17:45 GMT, 11 November 2012

… and Djokovic awaits in the final

Full report: Novak Djokovic reaches final

US Open and Olympic champion Andy Murray will battle world No 2 Roger Federer for a place in the ATP World Tour finals at London's O2 Arena.

Murray has so far beaten Thomas Berdych and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and lost to Novak Djokovic as he attempts to end a stunning year on a high note.

The winner of the match will face Novak Djokovic after the world No 1 overcame Juan Martin del Potro in three sets earlier today.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LIVE SCORE

Handy Andy: Murray is battling for a place in the final at the ATP World Tour

Handy Andy: Murray is battling for a place in the final at the ATP World Tour

Juan Mata and Novak Djokovic go to tennis at O2

The genius and the magician: Mata and Djokovic swap tips on way to watch Federer

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UPDATED:

14:06 GMT, 8 November 2012

Have you heard the one about the genius and the magician watching the tennis

Fresh from helping Chelsea to a last-gasp Champions League victory over Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday night, Juan Mata is enjoying a well-earned rest watching the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena.

The Spaniard is at the London venue to cheer on countryman David Ferrer who faces the imposing figure of Roger Federer in the second round of matches. And who better to show him the ropes than world No 1 Novak Djokovic

Band of brothers: Novak Djokovic (left) and Juan Mata head to the tennis

Band of brothers: Novak Djokovic (left) and Juan Mata head to the tennis

The pair traded gushing superlatives on Twitter after Mata posted a picture of them travelling to the venue together.

He posted the photo along with the caption: 'Going to O2 Arena with a genius' to which Djokovic replied 'Football magician 🙂 Enjoy tennis, amigo!!'

Main man: Djokovic beat Andy Murray at the O2 on Wednesday

Main man: Djokovic beat Andy Murray at the O2 on Wednesday

Murray tickets in demand

Tennis fans have been rushing to viagogo to snap up tickets for Friday’s Barclays ATP World Tour Finals matches.

The site has seen searches for tickets quadruple since the bumper line up was revealed.

Those with tickets for Friday’s evening session will see Murray take on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the singles and a repeat of Jonny Marray and Freddie Nielsen’s Wimbledon final against Horia Tecau and Robert Lindstedt.

The Australian Open winner is also
enjoying a rest day after he defeated Britain's Andy Murray in a tight
three-set match on Wednesday.

He faces Tomas Berdych in his final group match on Friday as he looks to end the season on a high.

The 25-year-old is a keen footballer and has admitted he could have pursued that sport had he not found tennis.

Mata meanwhile is no stranger to
posting pictures of his travels around London. Shortly after signing for
Chelsea from Valencia last year, he took his camera on a whistle-stop
tour of the capital.

The playmaker has been an integral part
of the Blues' side this season and was named player of the month for
October after scoring twice in the derby win over Tottenham.

Sightseeing: Mata has kept his fans updated on his London travels

Sightseeing: Mata has kept his fans updated on his London travels

Party time: Mata (left) celebrates Victor Moses' winner against Shakhtar

Party time: Mata (left) celebrates Victor Moses' winner against Shakhtar

Andy Murray v Novak Djokovic: Follow the latest score

Andy Murray v Novak Djokovic: Follow the latest from big ATP Tour Finals clash

PUBLISHED:

13:51 GMT, 7 November 2012

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UPDATED:

13:59 GMT, 7 November 2012

Alex Kay Talks Tennis

Andy Murray takes on his great friend and rival Novak Djokovic at the ATP Tour Finals today. Murray beat the world No 1 in the US Open final in September and the match is sure to be another thriller.

The Scot opened his campaign with a win against Tomas Berdych on Monday and will also play Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Friday after being drawn in Group A for the season-ending tournament at London's O2.

Roger Federer, David Ferrer, Juan Martin Del Potro and Janko Tipsarevic are in Group B.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LIVE SCORE
Home favourite: Andy Murray is back in action at the O2 Arena on Wednesday afternoon

Home favourite: Andy Murray is back in action at the O2 Arena on Wednesday afternoon

ATP Masters: Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic set for battle

Murray and Djokovic gear up for seventh clash of the year at ATP Masters

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UPDATED:

17:59 GMT, 6 November 2012

There will be no quarter given when Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic meet for the seventh time this year at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London on Wednesday.

The rivalry has been a huge feature of 2012 and the clash is easily the most eagerly-anticipated of the group stages at the O2 Arena.

Their head-to-head for the year is tied at three all and the key feature of the battles between the two is that they have been just that, brutal battles to the point of exhaustion.

No 1: Novak Djokovic took over as the world leader from Roger Federer

No 1: Novak Djokovic took over as the world leader from Roger Federer

Both their grand slam meetings have lasted almost five hours, with Djokovic coming out on top in the Australian Open semi-finals before Murray turned the tables to win his first grand slam title at the US Open.

The last time they met was in the final of the Shanghai Masters last month, a three-set match that lasted three hours and 21 minutes in which Murray held five match points but Djokovic eventually came out on top.

The London crowd will be hoping for more of the same but for the loser, and possibly even the winner, their chances of progress may depend on the result of their final round-robin match on Friday.

Murray said: 'For me anyway there's an understanding of how much you have to put into the match to win it. I think that's just the nature of these matches.

'Both of us are very good retrievers, so often the points will go on a lot. Sometimes you feel like you need to win the point two or three times, which is tough and can be a little bit tiring.

Chat: Andy Murray talks after beating Tomas Berdych

Chat: Andy Murray talks after beating Tomas Berdych

'But we've played each other enough to know what to expect. We do practice with each other quite a lot, too. But it's never quite the same as the matches, that's for sure.'

Both players began their campaigns in London with victory yesterday, Murray fighting back from a set down to defeat Tomas Berdych while Djokovic saw off Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets.

All the players are feeling the effects of a long season, but the world number one knows he must expect more punishment tomorrow.

He said: 'When I'm playing Andy, I need to be ready for long rallies and a physically demanding match. So I'm going to have a day to recover and get ready for my next challenge.

'Playing against Andy is always a big challenge. He has had lots of success in London, playing in his town, in front of his crowd, so he'll have big support. It's a big match.

'We know a lot about each other. I'm sure that we're going to come up with some really good tennis.'

Back home: This is Murray's first home tournament since winning gold

Back home: This is Murray's first home tournament since winning gold

This is Murray's first tournament back in London as a grand slam champion after he finally put questions about whether he would ever win one of tennis' biggest crowns to bed in New York.

Apart from a certain inner calm, Murray has not yet felt too many benefits on the court, but he hopes they will come.

He said: 'It's hard to say because I've lost a few very tough matches since. But I hope when I'm playing the best players in the world I'll believe in my shots a bit more and make sure to be aggressive when I can.

'I thought I did a good job of that (against Berdych). I tried to move forward and take his time away a little bit, which sometimes when I played him in the past, I'd let him dictate a lot of the points. I didn't feel like I did that.

'They're the things that, rather than it necessarily being just (a boost in) confidence, also just learning.

'Having won a few of the big events this year, and having lost a tough one in Australia against Novak, and at Wimbledon against Roger (Federer), I've learned a lot this year how I need to play those big points in big games.'

Andy Murray beats Tomas Berdych at ATP Tour Finals

Murray off to a flyer as US Open champion beats Berdych in ATP Tour Finals opener

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UPDATED:

17:31 GMT, 5 November 2012

Andy Murray was victorious in his first match on home soil as a grand slam champion as he fought back from a set down to defeat Tomas Berdych at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

With Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also in his round-robin group at London's O2 Arena, defeat in his opening match would have left the US Open champion with an uphill task to qualify for the semi-finals.

And it did not look good for the Murray when he dropped the opening set but the current world number three finally took a break point at the 11th time of asking early in the second and from there he kept Berdych at arm's length to win 3-6 6-3 6-4.

Take that: Andy Murray fires a return back at Tomas Berdych in their opening clash at the ATP Tour Finals

Take that: Andy Murray fires a return back at Tomas Berdych in their opening clash at the ATP Tour Finals

Serving up a treat: Murray and Berdych battled it out over three sets at the O2 in London

Serving up a treat: Murray and Berdych battled it out over three sets at the O2 in London

Czech this out: Berdych sends a serve down to Murray

Czech this out: Berdych sends a serve down to Murray

It was Murray's first match in the UK
since the heady days of summer when he banished his Centre Court demons
by winning Olympic gold.

He followed that, of course, by ending
his long wait for a grand slam title in New York and he was roared onto
court under the lights of the vast arena.

The opening singles clash of the
tournament was a repeat of the US Open semi-final, which Murray won in
extremely windy conditions, but he does not have a particularly good
record against big-hitting Berdych and was looking to square their
head-to-head at 4-4.

The home favourite, for that is
certainly what he is now, began with a statement of intent as he powered
away a backhand winner but the chance to break went begging, and it was
the same story in the fifth game.

Murray was then made to pay when
Berdych took his chance and the Czech saved his sixth and seventh break
points of the set to clinch it when his opponent went long.

Response: Murray fought back on home soil to dismiss Berdych

Response: Murray fought back on home soil to dismiss Berdych

Murray played only one match at the
eight-man end-of-season tournament last year, losing to David Ferrer
before pulling out injured.

This year he sounded determined to put
on a good show for the home fans but Berdych had not read the script
and Murray was under pressure in the third game of the second set, which
would prove to be the turning point.

Three times he saved break point and
in the next game he finally made the breakthrough despite Berdych
clawing his way back from 0-40 for the second time in the match.

It was Murray's 11th break point, and
he made sure he did not waste his hard-won advantage, taking his first
set point when Berdych drilled a backhand wide.

More like it: Although Murray took a while to get going, he eventually got into his stride

More like it: Although Murray took a while to get going, he eventually got into his stride

Home faithful: Murray's mother, Judy, and girlfriend Kim Sears (right) showed their support for Andy in the O2 Arena

Home faithful: Murray's mother, Judy, and girlfriend Kim Sears (right) showed their support for Andy in the O2 Arena

The sizeable crowd had been a little
subdued but they roared when the Scot brought up two more break points
in the third game of the decider, and again when Berdych put a forehand
just wide.

Coach Ivan Lendl was back in Murray's
box for the first time since the US Open and he would have been pleased
with the way his charge had turned things around.

The 25-year-old has developed an
unwelcome habit since the US Open of losing matches in which he has held
match point, doing so in all three tournaments he has played following
his New York triumph.

And he betrayed a few nerves with a
double fault on his first chance here but on the second Berdych netted a
backhand, leaving Murray to roar with delight as the fans acclaimed
their man.

Almost: Murray peers over the net during the match

Almost: Murray peers over the net during the match

Novak Djokovic to end 2012 world No 1

Djokovic back on the top the world as Serb secures No 1 spot until end of 2012

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UPDATED:

16:43 GMT, 29 October 2012

Novak Djokovic is guaranteed to finish the year ranked No 1 in the world, the ATP have confirmed.

The Serbian lost top spot to Roger Federer when the 31-year-old won Wimbledon in the summer but will regain it on Monday after his rival opted not to defend his title at the Paris Masters this week.

And, because Federer is also the defending champion at next week's season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London, he will be unable to gain enough points to overhaul Djokovic.

Shock Djok: Novak Djokovic will end the year as world No 1 once again

Shock Djok: Novak Djokovic will end the year as world No 1 once again

THE CURRENT TOP 10

1. Roger Federer – 12,315 points

2. Novak Djokovic – 11,970

3. Andy Murray – 7,690

4. Rafael Nadal – 6,905

5. David Ferrer – 5,610

6. Tomas Berdych – 4,985

7. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – 4,710

8. Juan Martin Del Potro – 3,990

9. Janko Tipsarevic – 3,100

10. Juan Monaco – 2,775

The 25-year-old becomes the first player to finish consecutive years at No 1 one since Federer held the spot at the end of four straight seasons from 2004 to 2007.

Djokovic has failed to emulate his stunning 2011 season, where he won 10 titles, including three grand slam crowns, but he has enjoyed another superb year.

He began the season by successfully defending his Australian Open crown and also reached the finals at the French and US Opens as well as winning four ATP World Tour titles.