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ATPWorldTour.com reviews the two best ATP World Tour matches of the year.
2. Milos Raonic d. Janko Tipsarevic 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 7-6(4), Chennai Final
It was one of the most nail-biting matches of the season, and it came with a trophy on the line at the Aircel Chennai Open. In an intense clash lasting three hours and 14 minutes, Milos Raonic edged Janko Tipsarevic in three tie-breaks to capture his second tour-level title, capping off an impressive run that saw the Canadian become the first player to win an ATP World Tour crown without dropping serve since Roger Federer at the 2008 Gerry Weber Open in Halle.
“It is only my second title,” said Raonic. “It is an awesome feeling. I created a lot of opportunities… one in each set. Tipsarevic took it away in the first set. But I took my opportunities in the second and third. My serve is a big factor in my game… in 99 per cent of my matches. My job is to take care of my serve.”
In a high-quality contest, neither player was able to break their opponent. Tipsarevic saved the nine break points he faced, while Raonic wiped away four against his serve, sending the match down to the wire. Raonic fired 35 aces, and in the end, his serve was the determining factor, as it enabled him to break open a 5-0 lead in the deciding tie-break. He went on the close out the Serbian in their first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting, letting out a roar of elation after the final point had been played.
“Guys like Milos are special players,” said Tipsarevic. “It was a great game of tennis. Nobody knew till the end who would win. Unluckily for me, it was I who lost. It was just a matter of a few points here and there. Hopefully next time, I will get the better of him.”
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1. Novak Djokovic d. Andy Murray 5-7, 7-6(11), 6-3, Shanghai Final
It was perhaps the most anticipated match-up of the tournament. Andy Murray entered the Shanghai Rolex Masters final as the two-time reigning champion, and his opponent across the net Novak Djokovic, was more than just a familiar foe.
Murray had defeated the Serb just a month earlier in a five-set US Open final to lift his first Grand Slam trophy. Djokovic came into the match in stellar form, winning the title in Beijing the week before. It had all the makings of an exciting final and it more than lived up to its billing, as Djokovic staved off five match points to turn the tables against the Scot for a three-set win.
“It’s difficult to judge who was better because it was so close throughout the whole match,” said Djokovic. “We had so many rallies in three and a half hours; for a best-of-three set match it is a very long time. Could have easily gone the other way. He was five match points up. When I faced those match points, I tried to focus on each individually. He was so close to the victory that I cannot say I was the better player.”
In a rollercoaster first set, featuring seven breaks of serve, Murray came out on top to take a one-set lead. He then broke Djokovic in the eighth game of the second set and looked to seal the win with the match on his racquet. Serving at 5-4, 30/0, Murray was in control of the point, before Djokovic pulled a ‘tweener to get back into the rally, finishing it with a drop shot winner. Murray reached match point at 40/30, but Djokovic erased it with a forehand winner and broke to level the set to 5-5.
An enthralling tie-break followed, and the pressure felt by both players escalated the deeper it went. On four occasions, Murray had his rival pinned facing match point, but the resilient Djokovic fought them all off, and clinched the set with a confident forehand winner to snatch the momentum. He broke Murray twice in the final set to complete his riveting comeback in three hours and 21 minutes.
“It’s not like I threw the match away,” said Murray. “I didn’t make any real glaring errors or anything. When I had my chances, he just served very well and hit a couple of lines when he needed to.”