DOHA, January 7, 2017
Novak Djokovic successfully defended his Qatar ExxonMobil Open golden falcon trophy with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 victory over top seed Andy Murray in a stunning first title match on the ATP World Tour in 2017.
In front of packed stands at the Khalifa Tennis Complex in Doha on Saturday evening, Djokovic broke serve in the eighth game of the opening to seal the frame in the following with a decent forehand winner full on stretch down the line.
The 29-year-old Serbian served for the match in the ninth game of the second set but missed three match points, as Murray started to play his best to force a tie-break and eventually pushed the encounter the distance.
Djokovic, who won 53 per cent of the total points played, came back and gained another break in the sevneth game. This time the Worldn No. 2 didn’t waste his chance, he put away a fine winner to claim the title that he also won last year and the pair embraced at the net after two hours and 54 minutes.
“I am obviously disappointed not to win tonight, but I played pretty good the last couple of the matches,” Murray told afterwards. “I think physically it was a good test to start the year, and I did good there. My body feels all right just now, so that’s positive. It was a little bit sore earlier in the week after the first couple of the matches. Felt better each day.”
Yet, Murray also sees space for improvements. “Still think there are things I can do better. I wasn’t that clinical on break points this week, which maybe that comes with playing a few more matches. That’s something I could definitely do a little bit better.”
The pair will both take a well deserved rest over the next seven days as they prepare for the first Slam of the year – the Australian Open. “I still think I have a chance of winning the Australian Open after tonight,” Murray is confident.
Djokovic clearly enjoyed winning his second Doha title after 2016. “Best scenario I could ask for for beginning of the season. Playing all five matches in this tournament and then three hours against No. 1 of the world, biggest rival, and winning in a thrilling marathon match is something that definitely can serve as a positive incentive for what’s coming up in Australia,” Djokovic was pleased.
“Obviously I’ve wanted and wished to finish the match earlier. Even the two sets that we played went almost two hours. Very physical battle, as it always is. Kind of dragged each other all the way to our limits. It’s only the beginning of the season, so we had a little laugh at the net actually about it. We both felt like if every match we’re going to play against each other is going to be this way this season, we’re going to have a fun time.
“He’s such a great defender and he is fighting so much and always gets the ball back. All the way to the last shot I didn’t know if I won the match. It was really, really thrilling performance from both of us. Just a great way to start the year,” Djokovic said.
Qatar Open Closing Ceremony: