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Brad Gilbert: Even after a four hour bout with Federer, Murray will edge out Djokovic too

Even after a four hour bout with Federer, Murray will edge out Djokovic too

By
Brad Gilbert

PUBLISHED:

01:12 GMT, 26 January 2013

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UPDATED:

09:16 GMT, 26 January 2013

After a four-hour match against Roger Federer, Andy Murray has a day less to prepare for the final than Novak Djokovic. But Andy is a very fit guy, and I’m not sure it makes that much difference.

It is not like the US Open where there is no rest day at all. Djokovic will know he had a cakewalk in the semis against David Ferrer; that will give him a little edge.

He made the world No 4 look like the No 100. He has won this title three times before. It is his most successful major.

Andy Murray has cut down on his tantrums and become far more focused on court

Head in the game: Andy Murray has cut down on his tantrums and become far more focused on court

He has a day less to rest and prepare for the final than Djokovic

Ice bath: He has a day less to rest and prepare for the final than Djokovic

Andy is playing as well as I have ever seen him. His serve is more accurate and heavy than before and his forehand is improved, too.

A few years ago, a lot of Andy’s game was about great defence, amazing movement and his backhand. But watching him against Federer, I was thinking it has been quite some transformation as his serve and forehand were the dominant shots.

He’s much more aggressive now and he’s not relying on defence any more.

He still has that in his locker but he’s much more attacking. It is partly down to confidence. He’s hitting a lot more winners. He served 21 aces against Federer, more than four times as many as the Swiss.

To have served only two double faults in the tournament is incredible. He will need to keep up that level as he is playing the world’s best returner.

Before, he too often was getting only 55 per cent of his first serves in. Now it’s 10 per cent higher. He can be freer on the court and take more risks.

Federer was gracious in defeat and admitted Murray outplayed him and deserved to win

Honest: Federer was gracious in defeat and admitted Murray outplayed him and deserved to win

His attitude is better, too. After that altercation in the fourth set with the umpire, he didn’t lose focus or mutter to his support team. He went and won the fifth instead.

It’s great watching him focusing on his tennis rather than getting distracted during matches.

Unfortunately for Andy, Djokovic does not have a weakness. His serve and forehand are also better than they have ever been.

Murray's serve demolished Federer for most of the match

Weapon: Murray's serve demolished Federer for most of the match

The pair are mirror images of each other and the world’s two best players at the moment. It will come down to who executes the big points best.

What will also be key is who can defend their second serve better. Andy showed resolve in his US Open final win against Djokovic. I’m sure that came from talking to Ivan Lendl about his experiences at the top.

I don’t think you’ll see the same probing rallies as in New York but more attacking, shorter rallies. It will be cool, which slows the court, too.

This match is what we call in American football a 'pick-em' – it's too close to call.

My hunch, though, is that Murray will edge it.

After looking rocking against Stan Wawrinka, Novak Djokovic cruised past David Ferrer

Warning signs: After looking rocking against Stan Wawrinka, Novak Djokovic cruised past David Ferrer

Australian Open 2013: Roger Federer into second round

Flawless Federer fires timely reminder of title threat as Swiss star strolls through

By
Steven Donaldson

PUBLISHED:

05:24 GMT, 15 January 2013

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UPDATED:

06:13 GMT, 15 January 2013

Roger Federer opened up his Australian Open challenge – and his season – with a routine straight-sets victory over France's Benoit Paire.

The second seed came to Melbourne having played no warm-up tournaments, but showed no signs of rustiness as he kicked off his bid for a fourth Australian Open title with a 6-2 6-3 6-1 win over the world No 46 in just 83 minutes.

For Paire, who deals more in spurts of inspiration than the sustained brilliance of Federer, it was a painful experience and by the end he looked keen to get off court as quickly as possible.

Main man: Roger Federer eased into the second round with a straight forward win over Benoit Paire

Main man: Roger Federer eased into the second round with a straight forward win over Benoit Paire

Federer said: 'Benoit's a good player, a good talent. I haven't played a match this season yet. You're not sure [how you're going to play] and that's why you're relieved when you get through the first one.'

Federer, who won the pair's only previous encounter in straight sets, was immediately into his stride as he broke in game one, then produced a wonderful pick-up at net in his opening service game, going on to save two break points to hold for a 2-0 lead.

Paire held twice and matched his opponent in patches, but Federer broke again for 5-2 then served out in style.

Family affair: Federer's wife Mirka and two children (below) were watching him in first round action

Family affair: Federer's wife Mirka and two children (below) were watching him in first round action

The children of Switzerland's Roger Federer

Paire was unruffled, though, and opened up set two with back-to-back aces to help take the first game.

But normal service was resumed as Federer broke for 2-1 then held to love to take a firm grip on the second set.

Paire held to stop the rot as Federer sent a backhand long, but he struggled to make any impact on the Swiss player's delivery as the set progressed with serve.

Federer produced a textbook serve-volley point for 5-3, but failed to take a set-point chance as Paire held on to make him serve for the set.

Different league: Benoit Paire was unable to get to grips with Federer's superior game

Different league: Benoit Paire was unable to get to grips with Federer's superior game

Predictably, the task presented the former world No 1 with few problems as he held to 15 and took the set when Paire pushed a backhand long.

Federer broke to open the third and, with all hope lost, Paire came out swinging, but he was missing more than he was hitting and the tactic served only to hasten his demise.

Even when Paire did show good touch at net with an acute backhand, Federer was there to pat the ball into the open court – a point which gave him a 4-0 lead.

Paire finally held for 4-1, then, produced the unlikeliest of break points – his first since Federer's opening service game of the match – but could not convert it.

One for the scrapbook: Federer signs autographs after completing a routine win in Melbourne

One for the scrapbook: Federer signs autographs after completing a routine win in Melbourne

Paire's game descended into trick shots as he attempted – unsuccessfully – a volley between his legs as he served to stay in the match.

Staying in the match looked like the very last thing he wanted, though, and Federer closed it out at the second attempt.

Afterward, the Swiss, who will next face either Israel's Dudi Sela or former world number three Nikolay Davydenko or Russia, explained his decision to play no warm-up matches.

'I've had a few busy years since I had kids,' he said. 'I just wanted to cool down a bit. It's nice to enjoy the off season. I hope it's the right decision, we'll see how it goes. I'm confident in my play.'

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Jumping for joy: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also made it through to the second round with a straight-sets win

Meanwhile, former finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga cruised to a 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 win over fellow Frenchman Michael Llodra.

Serving for the match, Tsonga hit a backhand drop half-volley at the net, then powered a forehand to the open court on match point to advance to the second round at Melbourne Park.

Tsonga, seeded seventh, had his best result in a Grand Slam when he made the final of the 2008 Australian Open, losing to Novak Djokovic.

Andy Murray is as fast as Usain Bolt over first 10 metres

Murray is as fast as 100m world record holder Bolt… well, over the first 10 metres

saw Murray's confidence soar with victories in the Olympics and the US Open” class=”blkBorder” />

On a roll: 2012 saw Murray's confidence soar with victories in the Olympics and the US Open

His peak condition will come in useful over the next two weeks at the Australian Open, with high temperatures sure to add strain to what is already an exhausting tournament.

Last year’s final was only seven minutes shy of six hours as Nadal and Djokovic battled it out, and it wasn’t the first time that the Slam has seen a match last longer than five hours.

The tournament kicks off on Monday, with Murray seeded third and seeking his second Grand Slam title. Robin Hasse, ranked 54th in the world, will be the first obstacle in the Scot’s way.

With Rafael Nadal absent due to a virus and Novak Djokovic in the other side of the draw, Roger Federer is the biggest threat to Murray’s chances of making the final. The pair could meet in the semis, but before that Murray may have to overcome sixth seed Juan Martin del Potro.

Kevin-Prince Boateng could quit AC Milan after race row

I'm ready to go: Boateng considers quitting Italy for good after racial abuse

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

11:31 GMT, 5 January 2013

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UPDATED:

11:31 GMT, 5 January 2013

AC Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng is considering his future in Italian football in the wake of a racial attack which prompted him to walk off the pitch during a friendly this week.

Boateng, a Ghana international, was followed off the pitch by his team-mates at fourth-tier side Pro Patria after several players were racially abused.

The 25-year-old has been publicly back by Milan, with president Silvio Berlusconi insisting his players would always walk off the pitch if they are subjected to further racist abuse.

Quit threat: Kevin Prince Boateng says he is not afraid to leave AC Milan

Quit threat: Kevin Prince Boateng says he is not afraid to leave AC Milan

Boateng has, however, revealed he could be forced to turn his back on the Serie A club after telling Germany's Bild newspaper he is now considering whether to leave Italy during the current transfer window.

'It's not something which you can just shake off,' he said.

'I will sleep on it for the next three nights and then sit down with my agent Roger Wittmann next week.

'We will have to see if it's really worth carrying on playing in Italy.'

The Italian FA responded to the incident by announcing they would conduct an investigation while Boateng, who is contracted at San Siro until 2014, has received widespread support from around the football world.

Kevin Prince Boateng

Kevin Prince Boateng

Final straw: Boateng admitted he had endured enough racist abuse and wanted to make a stand

The midfielder said he was 'proud' that his team-mates had joined him in boycotting the the match. Boateng revealed also that the chants started before the game commenced, but after 26 minutes, he had had enough.

'I could hear the first monkey calls after five minutes when I was on the ball,' he said.
'At first, I didn't think anything of it, but then it happened over and over again. I went to the referee and told him that if I hear it again, then I'd quit.

'He tried to calm me down. When it started again in the 26th minute with the monkey calls, then I thought 'that's it, I'm not carrying on'.'

I'd do it again! Boateng insists he would leave the field in a Champions League clash

I'd do it again! Boateng insists he would leave the field in a Champions League clash

Boateng told CNN yesterday that he would walk off the pitch again should he face further racist chants – despite FIFA and UEFA warning players against that action.

Boateng said he wanted to send out a message that racism would not be tolerated.
'It's easy to just turn a blind eye; taking action is more difficult,' he added.

'I would have done the very same thing had it been a Champions League match against Real Madrid – and I will always do it.

'I was angry, sad, shocked. For things like this still to happen in 2013 is a disgrace, not just for Italy, but for football in the whole world.

'I wanted to send out a signal to the whole world that things cannot go on like this.

'We need to open our eyes. Enough is enough. Racism has no place in football.'

VIDEO Boateng leads AC Milan teammates off the pitch on Thursday

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Andy Murray delighted to receive OBE in New Years Honours

Murray proud to receive OBE as 'final touch' to incredible year for US Open and Olympic champion

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UPDATED:

15:10 GMT, 29 December 2012

Olympic and US Open champion Andy Murray expressed his pride at being awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours list.

The 25-year-old was one of a host of sporting stars to receive honours as part of a special list rewarding British athletes who excelled at the London Olympics and Paralympics.

Murray said in a statement on his website: 'It is with incredible pride that I have been named in the New Year's Honours List to receive an OBE from Her Majesty the Queen for services to sport.

What a year: Andy Murray won two Olympic medals and lifted the US Open trophy

What a year: Andy Murray won two Olympic medals and lifted the US Open trophy

'This has been an amazing year for British sport and I am proud to have been able to play my part.

'I reached my first Wimbledon final, competed and won gold at the London 2012 Olympics with Team GB at Wimbledon, and then won my first grand slam title at the US Open.

'Being recognised in such a way at the end of such a great season is the finishing touch on 2012. Thank you all for your support, I hope everyone has a very happy New Year…..and here's to 2013!'

Murray went into the Olympics still looking to win one of tennis' biggest titles after falling just short at Wimbledon in July.

The Scot reached the final for the first time, ending a 74-year wait for a home men's singles finalist, but was beaten in four sets by Roger Federer, his devastation clear for all to see as his sobbed his way through a post-match interview.

Devastation: Murray (right) had to settle for second best at Wimbledon after losing to Roger Federer (left)

Devastation: Murray (right) had to settle for second best at Wimbledon after losing to Roger Federer (left)

Bouncing back: Murray beat Federer in the Olympic final at Wimbledon to take gold in the men's singles

Bouncing back: Murray beat Federer in the Olympic final at Wimbledon to take gold in the men's singles

Murray reacted in superb fashion, though, beating Novak Djokovic to guarantee himself a first Olympic medal and then handing Federer his worst defeat on grass to clinch gold in the men's singles on Wimbledon's Centre Court.

Murray almost made it two gold medals on the same day but had to settle for silver in the mixed doubles with Laura Robson.

The hope was the success would spur him on to break his grand slam duck, and he did just that at the first opportunity by winning the US Open in New York, ending Fred Perry's 76-year reign as Britain's last male grand slam singles champion.

Busy: Murray was in action earlier this week in Abu Dhabi

Busy: Murray was in action earlier this week in Abu Dhabi

The Wimbledon final was the fourth slam showpiece Murray had lost but he matched coach Ivan Lendl in winning at the fifth time of asking with a five-set victory over Djokovic.

Murray revealed after his triumph that his friends had been teasing him about the possibility of a knighthood – something he definitely was not expecting.

The world No 3 said: 'A lot of my friends have been messaging me about it and I don't really know what to say. I think it should take more than one or two good tournaments to deserve something like that. It would probably be a bit rash.'

The OBE is the first honour received by Murray, who survived the school shooting in his home town of Dunblane when he was eight.

Roger Federer plays with Gabriel Batistuta and Boca Juniors

Federer's at it again: After swapping skills with Pele, tennis ace plays with lethal ex-Argentina striker Batistuta

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UPDATED:

01:18 GMT, 14 December 2012

Fresh from showing off his silky smooth skills with Brazilian legend Pele, Roger Federer was at it again, this time with lethal ex-Argentina striker Gabriel Batistuta.

The world tennis number two swapped skills, and shirts, with 'Batigol' in a game of football-tennis at the home of Boca Juniors, the Bombonera stadium.

Argentinian World number seven Juan Martin Del Potro was also inside the stadium, just hours before the pair played their second exhibition match in the city of Tigre.

Roger Federer, Juan Manuel Del Potro and Gabriel Batistuta (left to right) pose for photos inside Boca Juniors' Bombonera stadium

Roger Federer, Juan Manuel Del Potro and Gabriel Batistuta (left to right) pose for photos inside Boca Juniors' Bombonera stadium

Control: Roger Federer (right) and Juan Martin Del Potro (left) took part in a game of football-tennis just hours before their second exhibition match in the Argentinan city of Tigre

Control: Roger Federer (right) and Juan Martin Del Potro (left) took part in a game of football-tennis just hours before their second exhibition match in the Argentinan city of Tigre

Swiss tennis player Roger Federer heads a ball next to Argentinian Juan Martin Del Potro and Argentinian former footballer Gabriel Batistuta

And the Swiss superstar had kind words to say about his Argentinian rival, whom he holds a 13-4 record over, although Del Potro has won the last two.

'He is already among the best,' Federer told ESPN. 'Now he just has to train hard and stay on the same path.

'He was number four, he's now number seven, but he could be number one. Sometimes the difference is in the small details.'

Federer is on tour in South America, visiting Brazil, Argentina and Colombia.

His next tournament will be the Qatar ExxonMobil Open on 2nd January before the Australian Open begins on 16th January.

Swap: Federer was at it last week swapping shirts and gifts with Brazilian legend Pele (left)

Swap: Federer was at it last week swapping shirts and gifts with Brazilian legend Pele (left)

Match of the Day first colour show – 43 years on

No more Match of the Grey: 43 years on from first colour broadcast, how the nation's favourite football show changed forever

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UPDATED:

15:48 GMT, 15 November 2012

We all remember the first time we were allowed to sit up late and watch Match of the Day.

It was a rite of passage into what seemed a grown-up world of men in suits and ties exchanging opinions on what had passed at grounds up and down the country that day.

But more excitingly, it guaranteed goals and action and the magic of seeing your heroes in your front room. And that wonderful feeling became even more vivid 43 years ago today.

For the first time, Match of the Day was broadcast in glorious Technicolor on November 15, 1969. What was once a soulless sludge of black and grey now exploded into all the hues of the rainbow as though the curtains had been drawn and the light let in.

First game in colour: Even if photography hadn't quite caught up, Liverpool vs. West Ham United on November 15, 1969 was the first Match of the Day game in colour. In this snapshot, Ron Greenwood (right) checks on the fitness of Billy Bonds

First game in colour: Even if photography hadn't quite caught up, Liverpool vs. West Ham United on November 15, 1969 was the first Match of the Day game in colour. In this snapshot, Ron Greenwood (right) checks on the fitness of Billy Bonds

Commentating in Colour: Kenneth Wolstenholme is still in black and white in this photograph, but Match of the Day was in colour by this time

Commentating in Colour: Kenneth Wolstenholme is still in black and white in this photograph, but Match of the Day was in colour by this time

MATCH FACTS

Liverpool 2 West Ham United 0
Saturday November 15, 1969 at Anfield
Attendance: 39,668

Liverpool: Tommy Lawrence; Chris Lawler, Tommy Smith, Emlyn Hughes, Ron Yeats; Ian Callaghan, Peter Thompson, Ian St John, Steve Peplow (Roger Hunt); Bobby Graham, Geoff Strong

West Ham United: Bobby Ferguson; Bobby Moore, Alan Stephenson, Bobby Howe, Billy Bonds, Frank Lampard; Ronnie Boyce, Trevor Brooking, Harry Redknapp; Clyde Best, Geoff Hurst

Goalscorers: Lawler 27, Graham 60

For the first time, viewers could enjoy the fresh green of the pitch, their favourite side’s colours, the tint of the star striker’s hair and the glorious sight of a sea of scarves, banners and rosettes being waved on a swaying terrace.

We take it for granted nowadays – in fact, many of us won’t settle for watching Match of the Day unless it’s in pixel-popping High Definition or even 3D – but we shouldn’t underestimate just what a revolution this was in 1969.

It was in 1966 that the BBC unveiled plans to start broadcasting television programmes in colour. Initially, colour output would be limited to just four hours a week on BBC Two, which had launched in 1964. This would then be gradually cranked up depending on how people reacted.

After all, making the leap into colour wouldn’t be cheap. /11/15/article-2233369-1328A836000005DC-658_306x423.jpg” width=”306″ height=”423″ alt=”Colour picture of Bobby Moore from 1967″ class=”blkBorder” />

Colour pic of Liverpool's Ian St John from 1967

Much better: Match of the Day's switch to colour meant football fans could see heroes like Bobby Moore (left) and Ian St John (right) in full colour for the first time

The match ticked all the boxes – Bill Shankly was slowly but surely moulding Liverpool into the pre-eminent force in English and European football, while West Ham still carried the Spirit of ’66 with Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters in their side, not to mention Trevor Brooking, Billy Bonds, Frank Lampard Sr and Harry Redknapp.

Plus, as MOTD producer Alec Weeks pointed out, Anfield was the kind of noisy and colourful venue you wanted for such an occasion. Indeed, it had been a game between Liverpool and Arsenal on the ground on August 22, 1964 that first launched the programme.

The first Match of the Day in 1964

‘We chose Liverpool for the first colour transmission because we wanted a colourful place,’ Weeks told the Liverpool Echo on the day of the match.

‘There’s nowhere as colourful as Anfield, both literally and in character, with the Kop and their comments.

‘Football in colour is fantastic. Tonight the red and light blue on the green will stand out. Identification of the players is much easier – you can see the colour of their hair, even the blushes if someone is being bawled out!’

Just as there had been a nationwide scramble for black and white television sets and aerials when Match of the Day started out in 1964, the excitement generated by such comments left Merseyside electrical retailers besieged. Everyone wanted to watch the Reds – and everyone else – in full colour.

Enlarge

Liverpool team photo 1969-1970

Better in Technicolour: Liverpool's squad for the 1969-1970 season – Back Row (left to right) Geoff Strong, Gerry /11/15/article-2233369-017AB035000004B0-971_634x725.jpg” width=”634″ height=”725″ alt=”Cutting edge: A customer takes a closer look at a new colour television at the 1967 Ideal Home Exhibition” class=”blkBorder” />

Cutting edge: A customer takes a closer look at a new colour television at the 1967 Ideal Home Exhibition

Viewers saw 35 minutes of colour highlights from Liverpool’s 2-0 win over the Hammers. This was well before clubs were equipped for TV crews and so the Anfield boardroom had to be converted into a makeshift studio. ‘It was a mammoth task,’ said Liverpool secretary Peter Robinson. ‘Extra lighting had to be installed in the boardroom.’

Goals from Chris Lawler and Bobby Graham won the game for Liverpool in a torrid weekend for West Ham. Peters had been forced to return to London on the eve of the match to deal with an urgent family matter and manager Ron Greenwood had call young Scouse trainee Bobby Sutton into the squad.

Sutton was only there for the experience and to see his mum, who worked in the Anfield canteen! He didn’t take part in the game however.

Liverpool finished fifth that season, while West Ham languished in 17th.

West Ham in colour action at Manchester United later in 1969-1970

But football coverage had been transformed forever. There was no turning back for Match of the Day, with every week from then on seeing extensive match highlights in colour.

Gradually, cameras were sent to more and more grounds and other advances such as instant replays added, as more and more people made the switch to colour sets in order to watch this English institution.

A NATIONAL TREASURE: TIMELINE OF MATCH OF THE DAY

1958: BBC screens its first live football match, the FA Cup semi-final between Fulham and Manchester United.

August 22, 1964: First edition of Match of the Day, screened on BBC Two at 6.30pm. Showed highlights of just one match, Liverpool vs. Arsenal at Anfield. The estimated audience was a mere 20,000 because BBC Two was only available in London at the time.

The Original Anfield Cat: The Match of the Day cameras picked up this moggy, who ran the whole length of the Anfield pitch at the first broadcast game between Liverpool and Arsenal in 1964

The Original Anfield Cat: The Match of the Day cameras picked up this moggy, who ran the whole length of the Anfield pitch at the first broadcast game between Liverpool and Arsenal in 1964

1965: Match of the Day switches to BBC One to reflect its growing availability and popularity. Several clubs try to block its broadcast, fearing a decline in attendances. A compromise is made when the BBC agreed not to reveal which match would be shown until after the day’s play was concluded.

1967: First competition as ITV starts to show regional highlights of matches on a Sunday afternoon.

1969: Attracting audiences of nearly ten million. First colour broadcast on November 15 of Liverpool vs. West Ham at Anfield. Number of matches increased from one to two per episode.

1970: Goal of the Month competition is introduced, as is the iconic theme tune.

1971: Introduction of slow motion replays.

Capturing the action: The Match of the Day cameras at Portman Road for Ipswich Town vs. Liverpool in 1974

Capturing the action: The Match of the Day cameras at Portman Road for Ipswich Town vs. Liverpool in 1974

Front man: Jimmy Hill introduces an episode of Match of the Day in 1981

Front man: Jimmy Hill introduces an episode of Match of the Day in 1981

1979: BBC forced to share highlights rights with ITV’s Big Match. Match of the Day is moved to a Sunday in 1980-1981 and 1982-1983 as a result, but the number of games goes up to three. Coverage is shared between the two channels through the eighties.

1992: BBC regains exclusive rights for highlights with the launch of the Premier League, which is to be screened live by Sky. It retains the coverage since, except for 2001-2004 when it moved to ITV.

Trophy trio: The Match of the Day line-up in 1999 - Alan Hansen, Gary Lineker and Mark Lawrenson

Trophy trio: The Match of the Day line-up in 1999 – Alan Hansen, Gary Lineker and Mark Lawrenson

2004: Match of the Day 2 is launched on a Sunday night.

2012: Match of the Day still draws in one in every four television viewers on a Saturday night.

Novak Djokovic beats Roger Federer in ATP World Tour Final at O2 Arena

Djokovic proves he is simply the best with thrilling victory over Federer at the O2

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UPDATED:

01:03 GMT, 13 November 2012

ATP World Tour highlights

Click here to watch highlights of Djokovic v Federer on our brilliant player

With one last lunge of 2012, Novak Djokovic sent an astonishing backhand pass down the line, over the highest point of the net, to leave Roger Federer flailing despairingly in defeat.

If there is a signature for the current golden era of men’s tennis it is the 25-year-old Serb’s extraordinary ability to cover the court and deliver winners from anywhere, and this is the image that will linger as the sport heads into its brief off-season.

That parting shot sealed a 7-6, 7-5 victory over the indoor master himself, who brought his best game to the court and his Barmy Army to the O2 Arena but still found it was not enough to win the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

Simply the best: Novak Djokovic holds the ATP World Tour Finals trophy after beating Roger Federer

Simply the best: Novak Djokovic holds the ATP World Tour Finals trophy after beating Roger Federer

Novak's roar: Djokovic went wild after clinching victory in the season-ending showpiece

Novak's roar: Djokovic went wild after clinching victory in the season-ending showpiece

Spain reign in the doubles

Spanish duo Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez will go into next weekend's Davis Cup final on a high after winning the doubles title at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London.

Granollers and Lopez beat Britain's Jonny Marray and Dane Freddie Nielsen in the semi-finals and they followed it up with a 7-5 3-6 10-3 victory over Indians Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna.

There was guaranteed to be two new champions and it was the sixth-seeded debutants who prevailed, handing Bhupathi a fifth final defeat at the end-of-season tournament.

Granollers and Lopez will now head to Prague where they will aim to help Spain win a fourth Davis Cup final in five years.

No amount of support can insulate
against the kind of surge that Djokovic fashioned at the end to deny the
Swiss a seventh triumph at the season-end championships.

At times like this, after two hours and 14 minutes of fruitless toil, Federer could be excused for feeling all his 31 years.

Djokovic said the recent health
problems affecting his father, who is recovering from a severe
respiratory illness, had spurred him on. ‘Having my father fight his own
fight, that motivated me, so this title is for him,’ he said.

Djokovic, who faced two set points at
5-4 down in the second set, began the season by winning the Australian
Open in the searing heat of Melbourne and has finished it with a triumph
under the huge dome in the cold of London, collecting another
1.1million in prize money.

There have been disappointments in
between and although the major spoils have been shared among the Big
Four, his consistency has seen him emerge way ahead of the pack, as the
rankings will confirm on Tuesday morning.

Second best: Federer was edged out after two sets of the highest quality tennis

Second best: Federer was edged out after treating the fans to two sets of the highest quality tennis

Power games: Djokovic blasts a forehand against Federer at the ATP World Tour Finals in London

Power games: Djokovic blasts a forehand against Federer at the ATP World Tour Finals in London

Try as Federer did with his sweetly-struck drives and rushes to the net, Djokovic was too often there to meet them.

As Federer said: ‘A lot of guys move
well but even in defence Novak stays on the offensive and takes time
away from you. I don’t think I could have played much better.’

Appropriately, the last match of the
season featured the world’s top two players. This pair have proved
themselves better and more durable than the rest over a sustained period
and only Andy Murray and a fit Rafael Nadal belong in the same bracket.

Rough and tumble: Djokovic was all action as he jumped around the court fighting for every point

Rough and tumble: Djokovic was all action as he jumped around the court fighting for every point

Ouch: The Serb needed treatment to his elbow after one flying leap caused a cut

Ouch: The Serb needed treatment to his elbow after one flying leap caused a cut

Federer took the opening nine points
in the course of going 3-0 up to the mass approval of the arena, which
has played host to a record 263,000 fans over the past eight days.

The Djokovic fightback was not long in coming — it rarely is.

Covering the back of the court with
his amazing flexibility, he broke back and served for the set at 5-4,
only to be broken himself. The tiebreak was a mini classic, with Federer
saving set point at 5-6 with a forehand played almost from behind his
body and speared cross court. Then two sloppy errors from the defending
champion saw Djokovic prevail 8-6.

Serb and volley: Federer (bottom) serves to Djokovic during the final at the O2 Arena on Monday

Serb and volley: Federer (bottom) serves to Djokovic during the final at the O2 Arena on Monday

Federer’s unforced error count of 23
was the price paid for his adventure and you half expected his morale to
sag, but that was to underestimate him.

He fought back and looked good for the
second set at 5-4 before Djokovic, his freakish movement to the fore,
broke back to put himself on the brink of the title.

Tennis fan: Pippa Middleton (bottom row, second right) shows her appreciation for the players

Tennis fan: Pippa Middleton (bottom row, second right) shows her appreciation for the players

Spotted: Former Arsenal star Robert Pires and wife Jessica Lemarie in the crowd

Spotted: Former Arsenal star Robert Pires and wife Jessica Lemarie in the crowd

LIVE: Novak Djokovic v Roger Federer: Score from ATP World Tour finals at O2 Arena

Novak Djokovic v Roger Federer: Latest score from the ATP World Tour Finals showpiece at the O2 Arena

PUBLISHED:

17:50 GMT, 12 November 2012

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UPDATED:

17:50 GMT, 12 November 2012

Follow the action as Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer battle it out to win the ATP World Tour Finals at London's O2 Arena from 8pm on Monday night.

The pair, world Nos 1 and 2 respectively, have won 22 Grand Slams between them and saw off Juan Martin Del Potro and home favourite Andy Murray in the semi-finals.

The final gets under way at 8pm.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LIVE SCORE

Top two: World No 1 Novak Djokovic (above) and world No 2 Roger Federer (below)

Top two: World No 1 Novak Djokovic (above) and world No 2 Roger Federer (below)

Top two: World No 1 Novak Djokovic (above) and world No 2 Roger Federer (below)

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