In a remarkable outing in his bid to return to top position in men’s tennis, Novak Djokovic defeated Andy Murray 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, in the Qatar Open final in Doha.
The Serb let three match points
slip and had to repel a roaring Murray comeback before ending the Briton’s 28-match, five-tournament winning streak.
Murray has not beaten Djokovic when losing the first set. In their first meeting since Murray won their season-ending climax at the ATP World Tour finals in November, the Briton ran into a rejuvenated Djokovic who, despite having problems with his racket hand and receiving two warnings for his behaviour, prevailed thrillingly in their 36th contest.
It was a perfect tonic for the world No2 in his buildup to the defence of his Australian Open title in Melbourne this month and provided food for thought for Murray, who lost for the 25th time against his old rival, the Guardian reports.
Murray, who lost a competitive match for the first time since September, said: “It was a tough one to lose, but a great way to start the year. I think it was high-level tennis. Some of the points were physically tough, but a great way to start the new year playing like that, and I look forward to the next few weeks. I’ve had a fantastic week here, I’ve really enjoyed it.”
Djokovic said: “Definitely one of the best ways to start the year. After saving five match points and winning yesterday’s semi-final, I had three or four match points in the second set. He turned it around, and I thought: ‘Wow, I hope this is not payback time’.
“All the way to the last shot you never know with Andy so it’s no strange occurrence for both of us to play three sets for three hours. It’s a very physical battle, we’re both going to need a little bit of time to recover from that and get ready for Melbourne”.