Djokovic keeps calm and carries on


Novak Djokovic no longer hits the panic button when faced with a crisis, he just keeps calm and waits for his chance. The five-time grand slam champion was as cool as a cucumber on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) as he withstood the best that fierce rival Andy Murray could throw at him to earn his second successive victory at this year’s ATP World Tour Finals. World number one Djokovic eventually prevailed 4-6 6-3 7-5 in another energy-sapping duel with the Briton he has been locking horns with since they were 11-year-olds.
Murray got the better of Djokovic in an epic U.S. Open final in September to win his first grand slam but Djokovic has won four of their seven meetings this year, including the last two.
In the Shanghai Masters final last month Djokovic saved five match points before downing Murray and while he was never in quite as much trouble on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time), he still needed those survival instincts to finally subdue the Scot after being outplayed for the first hour.
“A calm mind always wins,” the 25-year-old Djokovic, who matured into one of the sport’s most ferocious competitors since his more combustible early days, told reporters. “I’ve learned what I need to do. I try to take from every experience the best that I can and mature every year as a player and as a person. I’ve had many matches that I was coming back from a set down or match points down.” Djokovic has made a habit of winning from match point down and his record in deciding sets is up there with the best. His Australian Open final victory over Rafa Nadal this year took nearly six hours, after having spent nearly five hours beating Murray in the semis. There was also last year’s U.S. Open semifinal when he saved two match points against Roger Federer to leave the Swiss reeling.
Even in defeat against Murray at this year’s Flushing Meadows final he battled back from two sets down before succumbing in five. “Confidence plays a key role for any person on this planet,” Djokovic, who will end a second successive year as world No.1 said. ” “Especially for the athletes at this level. “You need to try to rely on your strength in your game and you need to believe in your shots, believe in your instincts.
“When you have that positive mindset, when you believe in your game, you have better chances of winning those crucial points.” Djokovic will face Tomas Berdych in his final round-robin match on Friday.
Beaten Murray faces uphill battle
There was no shortage of drama in the most eagerly-awaited clash of the group stages at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, but it was Novak Djokovic who edged out Andy Murray to put himself in the driving seat in Group A.
It was the seventh meeting between the pair this season and their rivalry is fast developing into the headline act on the ATP Tour. They were tied at three all, with Djokovic winning epic clashes at the Australian Open and in their last meeting in Shanghai a month ago but Murray coming out in top at the Olympics and, most notably, to win his first grand slam title at the US Open. The Scot could not have started better and played a near faultless first set, but he could not sustain it and in the end a third-set comeback counted for nothing as Djokovic prevailed 4-6 6-3 7-5 in two hours and 34 minutes at London’s O2 Arena.
This clash will not live long in the memory for the quality, first set from Murray aside, but it was somehow inevitable it would go down to the wire.
Assessing his rivalry with the man he first played as a junior more than a decade ago, the 25-year-old said: “I think both of us probably see each other’s games pretty well. Especially this year, because we’ve played so much. “You kind of know a little bit what to expect. I think that’s why all the matches, especially the last few, have been so close and decided by a few points.” Murray was blistering in the first set, pushing Djokovic back with the ferocity of his forehand and dropping only three points on serve after breaking in the opening game following the kind of ding-dong rally for which the pair have become famous.He was still in the ascendancy at the start of the second and had a chance in the third, only for Djokovic to find the corner with a drive volley. Three games later the Serb created his first opening and took it when Murray chose to serve and volley and just missed the baseline. “There are decisions you make in matches,” he said afterwards. “If they come off, you get told you’re a genius.