It’s all between Djokovic, Murray | Pakistan Today

It’s all between Djokovic, Murray

As the business end of the ATP tour approaches, men’s tennis has reached its climax.
With four remaining spots for the Barclays ATP World Tour finals in London still up for grabs, it is all or nothing for these top players. So when the Rolex Masters kicked off in Shanghai this week, there was a sense of great urgency as these men made that last stretch of the season for inclusion into the elite top 8.
The Shanghai Rolex Masters has become a regular feature in the ATP calendar ever since it’s inclusion in 2009 and is one of the nine Masters 1000 tournaments in the year. Awarded ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament of the year for the past three years, on the basis of player voting, this week-long event never fails to impress. With its state of the art technology, a magnolia shaped stadium roof and enthralling atmosphere, the 2012 edition was yet another spectacle. Spain’s Rafael Nadal, who had been nursing a knee problem and was out of action since Wimbledon, was a notable absentee this week. Other top-ten talents who were forced to withdraw included the feisty Spaniard David Ferrer (stomach virus) and Argentine Juan Martin Del Petro (left wrist injury). Otherwise, all top players were seen in action.
The first couple of days saw some interesting match-ups. Towering American John Isner, who has an outside chance of qualifying for the Barclays ATP World Tour finals, came back from the brink, saving 3 match points in his opening round against big serving South African Kevin Anderson. However, his luck ran out when he was outlasted by the wily veteran, Radek Stepanek in the next round. Another London hopeful, seventh seed Juan Monaco was upset by the talented lefty, Fernando Verdasco in the second round. Like Stepanek, Germany’s Tommy Haas was also a surprise quarterfinalist. Both these old timers, known for their great competitive spirit and an all court game, rolled back the years and enjoyed a good week in Shanghai. Along the way, they ousted some quality players, Almagro, Tipsarevic, Hewitt and Gasquet to name a few.
Fresh from Davis Cup duty, world number 1 and top seed Roger Federer, was playing in his first tournament since the US Open. With an incredible 300 weeks at No.1 in sight, the Swiss maestro had to dig deep to stave off an inspired challenge from his compatriot Wawrinka in the round of 16. This week has been anything but ordinary for Federer. The obvious reason being the career milestone of 300 weeks at the top of the world rankings, but the bizarre death threat directed to the Swiss by an anonymous Chinese blogger has also caught a lot of people’s attention. The Shanghai Masters organizers taking note of this, called for increased security, surrounding the Swiss with a dozen dark-suited security guards throughout the course of the week.
All eyes were on two-time defending champion Andy Murray who remains under public scrutiny for a customary post-maiden Grand Slam hangover. The Scot entered the round of 16 without hitting a ball, courtesy of a bye and a walkover. Aside from a few minor glitches in his quarterfinal against Stepanek, it had been all plain sailing for the Olympic gold medalist. He headed into Saturday’s clash with Federer with a 9-8 head to head record and got off to a quick start, breaking the Swiss in the opening game. Following a passage of some scintillating play, Murray proved far too solid for a sluggish Federer. Despite a short rain delay, he successfully held serve to close out the match in straight sets and qualify for Sunday’s final where he meets the second seed Novak Djokovic.
Djokovic had come into Shanghai with already a title to his name last week in Beijing. The inform Serb has looked in sublime form this week with routine straight sets wins over all his opponents, including a convincing victory over fourth seed Czech Tomas Berdych in the semifinal. With the world number 1 spot in sight, perhaps the Serb has an added incentive to finish off the year in style after a less than spectacular season by his lofty standards.
There was some Pakistani interest in the doubles draw as Aisam Ul Haq Qureshi and his Dutch partner Jean-Julien Rojer, seeded sixth here were hoping to bolster their chances of qualifying for the year end championships with a strong showing. The Pak-Dutch duo bowed out at the quarterfinal stage of the event, but not without a fight. On the verge of victory with 2 match points in the super tie break, they fell at the hands of the British pair of Fleming and Hutchins 6-7(2)/6-4/10-12. With 3 more weeks left till the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, Aisam and partner have considerable time to make amends and firmly cement their place in the top 8.
As for the final today, my money is on Djokovic to run home with the title mainly due to the way he has been striking the ball this week. But with Murray having gotten the better of the Serb in their last 2 encounters, the Shanghai fans are in for a cracker of a final.

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