x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Tennis' new dynamic duo is Djokovic-Murray

The Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal rivalry has dominated men's tennis but now, at least on hard courts, Novak Djokovic-Andy Murray has become must see, says Ahmed Rizvi.

After epic battles at the US Open (won by Andy Murray) and the Shanghai Masters (won by Novak Djokovic) it is clear that tennis' new rivalry, at least on hard courts, will be between the two friends.
After epic battles at the US Open (won by Andy Murray) and the Shanghai Masters (won by Novak Djokovic) it is clear that tennis' new rivalry, at least on hard courts, will be between the two friends.

For years now, the Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal duopoly has defined men's tennis. Even when Novak Djokovic ascended to the top of the rankings following an incredible 2011, matches between the Swiss and the Spaniard were usually the main events.

It was the rivalry in men's tennis, the greatest in contemporary sport.

That magnificent act, however, seems to be coming to a close.

After two epic finals at the US Open last month and the Shanghai Masters on Sunday, Djokovic and Andy Murray are emerging as the new super show in town.

With their gruelling physicality and long, exhausting rallies, Djokovic and Murray have played some incredible matches since Rome last year, when the Scot lost in three hours as he served for the match.

They did it again at the Australian Open earlier this, in a semi-final that lasted nearly five hours.

Murray had a comfortable straight-sets win in the last four of the London Olympics, but at the US Open, the two long-time friends churned out another five-hour epic.

On Sunday, they were on court for three hours and 21 minutes as Djokovic saved five match points.

"It's exciting to be part of such an extraordinary rivalry, extraordinary matches, especially with somebody that you grew up with and you know for a long time," Djokovic said on Sunday.

Born seven days apart in May, 1987, Djokovic and Murray have known each other since the age of 11 when they first squared-off at a tournament in France.

"I lost that match," Djokovic revealed last year.

The Serbian, however, has been ahead of the race between the two since.

He made it to the top 100 three months before Murray in 2006 and was also first to wear a grand slam crown, winning the Australian Open in 2008.

The Serb has added four more since.

Murray finally opened his account at New York in September.

Between the two on the court it has been pretty even, unlike Nadal's 18-10 record against Federer.

After Shanghai, Djokovic leads 9-7 and some of the sport's greats have no doubt where this rivalry is headed given Nadal's battered knees and Federer's age.

"Are they the next two? Yes, I would think so," said Mats Wilander, the former world No 1.

"I don't think Federer or Nadal are finished by any means, but on hard court, it's these two.

"Whereas the others [rivalries] are a bit one-sided, this one has never been one-sided.

"It's always been back and forth. They just haven't played in enough big matches. Now they will."

arizvi@thenational.ae

 

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