As the finale to the men’s tennis tour gets under way in London, Daniel Gardre turns back the clock to the memorable match in 2012 when Novak Djokovic halted Roger Federer’s dominance at the season-ending tournament
The 2016 ATP World Tour Finals in London will be significant for one key reason above all others for Andy Murray. Having sat behind Novak Djokovic in the rankings for 78 weeks, the Scotsman will take to the hard court as world no. 1 for the first time in his career.
The changing of the guard is reminiscent of another power shift witnessed at the very same tournament back in 2012, when Djokovic, who had just reclaimed the top ranking, defeated defending champion Roger Federer in two closely-fought sets (7-6, 7-5).
The Swiss icon did not readily relinquish the title he had won in five of the previous six years as he raced to an early 3-0 lead, claiming the opening 12 points while playing some breathtaking tennis. Djokovic, however, soon found his rhythm. The Serbian held his next service game and capitalised on some uncharacteristically poor first serves from Federer to break back.
The set was eventually decided by a memorable tie-break that included a dazzling exchange involving Federer, with the ball seemingly behind him, somehow smashing a cross-court winner to nullify Djokovic’s set point. Nevertheless, it was the top seed who claimed the set, taking advantage of four unforced errors and emitting a deafening roar as he took the lead.
The second set started much like the first as Federer immediately broke Djokovic’s serve and moved two games to love in front. The Swiss maintained his imperious form and looked likely to force a deciding third with two set points, were it not for Djokovic’s unmatched defensive play and an ill-timed unforced error on Federer’s behalf.
The Serbian held his own serve to move to 6-5 and clinched the tournament with a fittingly sumptuous passing shot that Federer could only flick at with the rim of his racket. It was Djokovic’s 75th win of the season and his sixth tournament success of 2012.
Murray, now 29, will hope to replicate Djokovic’s achievement at the ATP World Tour Finals as world no. 1. Having won at Wimbledon and claimed Olympic gold in Rio, the current season has been the most successful of his career so far. The Scotsman is now the oldest first-time world no. 1 since John Newcombe reached the top in 1974 at the age of 30.