6-3 Game, Set, Match: Djokovic Murray is exhausted and breathing laboriously. A long rally is the last thing he needs now but a long rally is what he must endure to stay in this match. Murray comes out on top, winning the point with a great cross court shot. The problem is, Murray has very little left to push on with. The inevitable happens, Djokovic secures a third championship point. He won’t need a fourth. Djokovic wins a truly incredible game.
5-3 Murray is battling. He really needs to. A couple of cross-court combos gets Djokovic running about the court like a man possessed, before an audacious drop shot wins the point for Murray. It’s 30-30, Murray has work to do, but he is at least proving himself capable of carrying out that work. Djokovic forces game point, but Murray is able to pile on the pressure and force the Serbian to make mistakes. It’s deuce, but Djokovic pulls off an impressive volley to force a quick advantage before following up with a classy ace. Murray is in trouble here.
4-3 BREAK! We’re now well over the 3 hour mark, with some distance yet to run in this one. Djokovic is moving the better of the two and secures a potentially crucial break point. Djokovic continues to press and takes an emphatic break. It’s worth remembering, though; Murray broke Djokovic at this point in the second set, and look what happened there.
3-3 Djokovic steps up to the plate and looks ready to advance. At the first opportunity he charges the net, pushing Murray to the back of the court and winning the point. But Murray still has something in the tank, and claws a point from the Serbian’s serve. It’s short-lived though, Djokovic holds his nerve and his serve.
2-3 Both players are on the floor as Murray somehow forces an advantage. Despite looking exhausted, Murray is apparently unfazed and hits an excellent cross-court forehand to finally close out this service game.
2-2 Deuce Murray evidently feels he’s been wasting too much time on his service games and quickly looks to put this one to bed. He races to a 30-0 lead but challenges unsuccessfully, letting Djokovic back in. Murray attempts a passing shot, misses, and finds himself exactly where he didn’t want to be – mired in a 30-30 on his serve. Potential signs of cramp emerging in Murray’s legs also. Djokovic senses an opportunity and elects to take it, gaining a break point. A late call from the umpire gives Murray a reprieve, saving the break point and forcing deuce.
2-2 Murray attempts a weak drop shot which doesn’t clear the net. Djokovic seizes the opportunity and hits a stunning serve down the middle, Murray returns, it’s long, game to Djokovic.
1-2 Murray quickly presses home the advantage and takes the game.
1-1 Deuce Djokovic runs a long way around a backhand and hits a stinging forehand volley, but Murray returns. Frantic play ensues, culminating in Djokovic playing an apparently un-returnable cross-court pass, which Murray somehow reaches, dinking his return over the net deftly. It’s 40-30 to Murray in what has been one of the most delightful games of the match so far, but Djokovic decides he’s not yet ready to roll over, pressing Murray to the back of the court and forcing deuce.
0-1 Two hours and 39 minutes later and there is still nothing to choose between these two players. Murray achieves what he was repeatedly unable to achieve in the tie break and wins three points in a row. Djokovic is returning well, and wrongfoots Murray impressively, but it’s only a blip, Murray holds comfortably.
Game, Set Djokovic 7-6 (13-11) Djokovic’s serve is strong and it’s set point once more, but a lung busting rally ends with another unforced error – this time for Djokovic – and Murray saves it yet again. 11-11. Murray has the chance to force a sixth championship point, but the shot is too risky and creeps just beyond the baseline. Djokovic has another set point and takes it with a stunning forehand on the approach. Murray is nowhere near it. This will go the distance.
Tie break 10-10 Murray is distracted, his return goes long and Djoko has a set point. But Murray’s first serve is wicked, and the Scot rushes to the net, once again forcing Djokovic to hit long to the back of the court. It’s 9-9, Murray to serve. Another excellent serve gives Murray the chance to advance once more and he stuns Djokovic with an approach shot. It’s championship point again, fifth time lucky for Murray? No. Try as he might, Murray cannot find a way past Djokovic on either side of the court and eventually hits the net. 10-10.
Tie break 8-8 The to-ing and fro-ing continues and all of a sudden Djokovic finds himself at set point. Murray races into the net and forces Djokovic’s hand. The Serbian returns, but it’s long, way long. The set point is saved and Murray serves at 7-7, before the tension is ratcheted up further with a successful challenge from Djokovic. Murray is currently winning the psychological battle and punishing Djokovic with simple ground strokes. Murray has a fourth championship point with Djokovic serving. Predictably, it’s saved.
Tie break 6-6 Unbelievable strength and determination from Murray. His athleticism is rewarded with another championship point on his serve. An excellent passing shot from Djokovic saves one match point, before Murray lets the Serb off with another unforced error. 6-6.
Tie Break 3-2 First blood to Djokovic as Murray’s composure goes out the window once again. Murray hits the net again and looks almost apoplectic with rage, 3-1 to Djokovic. There is a glimmer of hope for Murray as Djokovic’s serve goes long and Murray scores a point ahead of his serves.
6-5 Murray is now the frustrated one, throwing his racket to the floor and exchanging disgruntled words with the umpire. Meanwhile, Djokovic is a man reborn, out-muscling Murray all over the court on his way to 40-0. A double fault gives Murray a glimmer of light, but can he get his head in the game? He can’t, and loses another stunning rally to give Djokovic the hold.
4-5 Deuce All the challenges are going Murray’s way, even Djokovic’s. The Serbian challenges a long call, only discover that it was accurate all along. 0-15. An unbelievable point follows, as Djokovic commits at the net, is pushed to the back of the court and returns the ball between his legs. Djokovic seizes the upper-hand and plays an un-returnable drop shot tight to the net. There’s that trademark Serbian smile again. Stunning stuff. Djokovic is looking strong, has he saved the best till last, or is it too late? He attempts another drop shot, but it’s misjudged. He hits the net and now it’s championship point to the Scot. Guess what, Djokovic saves it. Deuce.
4-5 Djokovic definitely ain’t done and plays a stunning shot down the line. Murray returns but gives Djokovic the chance to run around a backhand and smash a forehand across court. Djokovic’s work pays off and he holds comfortably. Is a comeback beyond Djokovic? I’m not brave enough to make that call.
3-5 Both players are looking as fresh as they did an hour and a half ago, but are also continuing to make mistakes. Two big rallies end with an unforced error, one for Murray one for Djokovic, poising the game at 15-30. Murray doesn’t want to mess about and takes the next point quickly – game point. The Scot faults on his first serve, and then is deemed to have faulted again, but challenges successfully. Reprieved, he has another shot at finishing this with an ace; Djokovic returns long and Murray deftly swerves it. Is the finish line in sight?
3-4 BREAK! Murray maybe senses that his chance is now, and becomes the first player to edge ahead on his opponents serve for several games. At 15-30, Djokovic hits the net, placing him in deep deep trouble. It’s break point to Murray – the first we’ve seen in this set. Djokovic rallies, returns well, makes Murray move, but each time Murray is there with just enough to keep the Serbian on his toes. Superb athleticism from Murray gives him a vital break as Djokovic hits the net again.
3-3 After the break-frenzy that was the first set, the match has now settled into a distinct rhythm.12 of the last 14 points have now gone with serve, and this trend looks unlikely to relent any time soon. Murray wants to close this with an ace, but Djokovic challenges and is found to be ‘out’ by a similar margin that he was deemed to be ‘in’ in the first set. Murray wastes little time ruminating on the intricacies of karma and zen philosophy and instead aces to hold serve. Probably a good decision.
3-2 Djokovic is out to show that, despite his racket-crunching tantrum at the end of the first, whatever Murray can do he can do with similar proficiency. Djokovic thinks he’s held to love, but Murray uses a third challenge and is successful. Any designs that Murray has on breaking in this set are quickly snuffed out by an excellent backhand/forehand combo from Djoko.
2-2 Murray forces Djokovic to play an awkward shot from his feet, it bobbles wide and gives Murray first blood in this game. Capitalising quickly, Murray quickly forces three game points, taking the game easily and providing us with our first hold to love of this titanic struggle.
2-1 Just when you think the rally is done, it isn’t. Four, five, maybe six times in this rally either player could have buried it, but each time their opponent was their athletic equal. Murray is dragged into the net and then pushed back out again, but still manages to get the point back under control. Djokovic wins this particular face-off, but don’t expect it to be the last. Djokovic holds serve and leads two games to one.
1-1 A 211km per hour rocket of a serve ties Murray’s opening second set service game at 30-30 before more muscular play from the Scot gives him a 30-40 lead on his serve. Murray wants to close this game quickly and does so, holding serve and tieing the set.
1-0 Relatively straightforward game. Djokovic opens his second set account with a comfortable hold.
0-0 A much needed rest for both players after an excellent first set. Murray is on top, but the game is poised. Can’t wait for the beginning of the second set.
5-7 Game and Set Murray. Murray claims two set points and looks to have won it with a stunning forehand, but Djokovic is no ordinary player and saves the first set point comfortably. The two players bed down into a long rally, but it is Murray who is doing most of the work. Djokovic eventually hits long and Murray claims the first set in 1 hour 13 minutes.
5-6 BREAK! A great return from Murray forces Djokovic to play a volley he really does not want to play. Novak is looking frustrated and a wide volley gives Murray the break. Now Djokovic is really mad and it’s his racket that takes the full brunt of the Serbian’s anger. Murray looks calm and collected and will now serve for the set.
5-5 Deuce Djokovic is making mistakes, too. He hits the net on three game points to let Murray back into a game he was already waving goodbye too. Murray is beginning to get back into this game and scores another point on Djoko’s serve before an absolute stunner of a backhand brings us to deuce.
5-5 Murray challenges again, but his judgement fails him this time. 15-0. A double fault from Murray allows Djokovic to inch closer to set point, but a long hit passing shot gives Murray a breather as we hit the hour mark. Once again we see the hands-on-hips stance from an annoyed Novak Djokovic as he hits long again – 30-30. Unbelievable tennis from Murray has Djokovic scurrying around back and forth at the back of the court. Murray is able to swan in to the net and hit a winning volley. It’s game point and we have another rally on our hands. Djokovic hits long and Murray ties the set.
5-4 Djoko is under pressure, giving Murray the chance to gamble at the net. Djokovic has the class to return one, but can only pop a return on the follow up into the sky. With Djokovic in no man’s land and a generously dropping ball to hit, Murray takes his first point in this game with a leisurely smash. However, Djokovic battles back and regains the upperhand. Some strong tennis forces game point, and then – you guessed it – Murray hits the net and Djokovic is a break away from the first set.
4-4 BREAK BACK! Now it’s Djokovic’s turn to break, and he threatens to do so with 3 break points. A lacklustre return of serve allows Murray to save one, but then Murray hits the net again and hands Djokovic the break of serve.
3-4 BREAK! Murray challenges a call and wins, but only by a hair’s breadth. Both players are proving that service means nothing in a match like this, taking points off one another’s serve like nobody’s business. Murray quickly claims 3 break points; Djokovic saves one with an impressive off-balance forehand, and then gets the chance to save another with a second forehand but passes long. Hands on hips, the Serbian looks annoyed, as well he might. Murray breaks.
3-3 BREAK! An excellent smash from Murray saves a Novak Djokovic break point. Back at deuce, the long rallies are coming thick and fast. Djokovic wins this one to force another break point. Djokovic doesn’t need a third bite at the cherry and breaks Murray again.
2-3 Deuce It takes something special to beat Novak Djokovic, and Murray’s volley at the net is not quite enough. The athletic Serbian scurries across the court and performs an amazing dig to salvage the point. Murray is moving well, though, and almost holds serve, before unfortunately hitting long and allowing Djokovic to claw it back to deuce.
2-3 Djokovic races to a 30-0 lead on his serve but lets Murray off the hook by hitting long. Murray looks rejuvenated and attacks Djokovic’s smash ruthlessly, setting himself up for a stunning forehand winner. Murray doesn’t squander the game point and closes it out.
2-2 Murray needs to watch his unforced errors as he hits the net once again. At the moment this is the only difference between the two players. Murray still manages to force a game point, but another superb rally threatens to overwhelm him. Murray has to work hard to chase a strong Djokovic forehand and some how gets there. The follow up goes past him, though, and it’s deuce. A relatively straightforward deuce gives Murray the hold.
2-1 BREAK BACK! Murray shows that this match is far from done, quickly taking a point on Djokovic’s serve with an absolute lightning bolt. Murray then wrongfoots Djokovic at the net and punishes him with a strong back hand – 15-30. Yet another long rally goes Murray’s way – two break points. Murray only needs one, and breaks Djokovic with some athletic tennis from the back of the court.
2-0 BREAK! Murray quickly gains the advantage and some how saves an excellent lob to the back of the court from Djokovic. The follow up is too strong though, and we’re at Deuce again. Big rallies are becoming a theme in this match, and we’re treated to another one, again ending with Murray hitting the net. The Serbian does not squander this advantage, Murray hits wide and Djokovic breaks.
1-0 Deuce A stunning rally ends with Murray hitting agonisingly wide. 30-15 to the Serbian on Murray’s serve. A similarly astonishing rally follows, with the ball getting closer and closer to the net with each pass. Once again, Djokovic comes out on top to force two break points. A crashing forehand from Murray saves one and then another.
1-0 Both players are still finding their range and the first game is a cagey one, Murray hitting the net and Djokovic hitting wide to poise it at 30-30. Two more close points bring about deuce before Murray hits the net after a long rally. Murray hits the net once more on Djokovic’s second serve. Novak holds. The crowd are given a taste of what’s to come.
0-0 Both players are warmed up and it’s Djokovic to serve.
Novak Djokovic vs Andy Murray: Preview
Live commentary of the Shanghai Masters 2012 final match between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic will start here Sunday 4:30pm Shanghai time.
This will be the 16th meeting between the two players, Djokovic leading the head to head against Murray with 8-7. But it was the Brit who won their last encounter, as he defeated the Serb in this year’s US Open final.
Murray is yet to lose a match in Shanghai, he has captured the title here in 2010 and 2011. With his semifinal straight sets 6-4 6-4 win over world no.1 Federer, he once again proved to be ready for the big showdowns.
Djokovic also produced some high quality tennis in his semis match against the Czech Berdych, prevailing 6-3 6-4.