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Murray to take aura of invincibility into new year | Reuters

By Martyn Herman
| LONDON

LONDON Forget the latest addition to Andy Murray’s creaking trophy cabinet, the $2.4 million cheque and the adulation of a nation, the most significant upshot of his ATP World Tour Finals victory over Novak Djokovic is the aura it brings.Murray, the new king of men’s tennis, will take that rare commodity which few achieve in sport into the new season in spades.It is an unquantifiable weapon and one that can sustain lengthy periods of dominance even when form is fickle.Scroll through the annals of sport and there are some striking examples.Steve Waugh’s Australian cricket team had it, winning 16 consecutive tests between 1999 and 2001, so too have various New Zealand rugby union sides. Spain’s national soccer team achieved an aura of invincibility between 2008 and 2012.Individually, Michael Schumacher had it while winning seven Formula One drivers titles, as did squash great Jahangir Khan who was unbeaten between 1981 and 1986. Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt exudes it every time he steps on to his blocks.Murray knows only too well the debilitating effect it can have on opponents.He has played and suffered in an era graced by Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic who, at various times over the past decade, have had rivals mentally beaten before a point was even played.

EPIC SEMI-FINAL
It looked that way on Sunday when Murray, exhausted after his epic semi-final victory over Milos Raonic when he saved a match point, walked on court to face Djokovic in a showdown for the end-of-year number one spot.Dressed in his now familiar military-grade kit and industrial-strength footwear, the granite-calved Murray looked like an indestructible machine while Djokovic, so often the Scot’s master during their career-long rivalry, appeared lightweight and unsure of himself.Murray duly won 6-3 6-4 and, despite a late Djokovic fightback, played like he knew the outcome was never in doubt.

“There was no serious chance for me to win today’s match.” Djokovic said. “From the very beginning we could see that. He was just a better player all in all.”Murray, 29, is undefeated since September, has won 24 matches in succession and his win-loss record since losing to Djokovic in the French Open final is 53-3.In the last week of the season he beat world number five Kei Nishikori, number four Stan Wawrinka and number three Milos Raonic before swatting aside second-ranked Djokovic with an ease bordering on contempt.And the iron-willed Murray is unlikely to relent.

The sweat had barely dried on Sunday and he was talking about his December training camp and January’s Australian Open where Murray will start as favourite to win a fourth grand slam.Former world number one John McEnroe, another player who at his peak in the 1980s had opponents cowed before battle, said Murray will be well aware that aura, so long in the making, can vanish quickly.”Murray is an amazing athlete. He’s going to try to take advantage of this time because it’s limited, we all know that,” the American told the BBC. Djokovic will need no reminding.”If you had told me six months ago that this would even be an issue, I would have said you’re crazy,” McEnroe said of Djokovic’s sudden vulnerability.”At some point you’re going to hit a wall of some kind, But when it comes, people are surprised, but it always happens.”You just don’t know how long it will last.” (Editing by Ed Osmond)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Nov 21, 2016 19:34 IST

dna Morning Must Reads: PM Modi in Switzerland; Djokovic wins French Open; and more

1. PM Modi arrives in Switzerland; likely to raise black money issue, seek support for NSGFollow live updates from PM Modi’s visit to Switzerland to deepen bilateral and multilateral cooperation. Read more here<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. Haryana on tenterhooks as Jats threaten to spread their agitation to UP, DelhiBesides demanding reservation, Jats want withdrawal of all cases against people from their community.Read more here3. Delhi: 3-year-old girl sexually assaulted by minor; Kejriwal slams LG Jung, PM Modi for ‘jungle raj’​A three-year-old girl was allegedly sexually assaulted by a 10-year-old boy at a slum in outer Delhi’s Mongolpuri area, police said on Sunday.​ Read more here4. French Open 2016: Djokovic beats Murray to complete career grand slamDjokovic conquers Roland Garros to join tennis pantheon; Murray suffers eighth defeat in 10 grand slam finals. Read more here5. I love to do comedy because in real life too, I love to laugh, smile and joke: Akshay KumarAkshay Kumar on his well-received performance in his latest film, acting in comedic genres and what it means to return to the genre after a while… Read more here

Djokovic joins greats with maiden French Open title | Reuters

PARIS Novak Djokovic joined the tennis greats on Sunday when he downed British second seed Andy Murray 3-6 6-1 6-2 6-4 to claim his maiden French Open title and hold all four grand slams at the same time.

The world number one recovered from a nervous start to impose his pace on Court Philippe Chatrier and clinch his 12th grand slam crown after three previous failures in a Roland Garros final.

Djokovic is only the third man after Don Budge and Rod Laver to hold the four majors at the same time, and the eighth man to triumph at Wimbledon and the French, U.S. and Australian Opens.

“It’s a very special moment, possibly the biggest moment in my career,” the 29-year-old, who now has a 5-2 win-loss record against Murray in grand slam finals, said courtside.

It looked like Djokovic got off to a dream start, taking Murray’s serve to love in the first game.

But the Briton, who was playing his 10th final at a major, hit the ball early to set up three break points in the following game, converting the third with a fine lob. He held to love and then broke again, winning 16 of 20 points to lead 4-1.

Tension threatened to boil over when Murray shouted “get him out”, pointing to a French TV interviewer who was in the player’s box, before Djokovic had an altercation with the chair umpire.

As Murray was serving for the set, he was awarded a point to lead 30-0, Djokovic having hit his return before an ‘out’ call on the serve was made.

“The call was after you hit the ball. I’m 100 per cent sure,” Damien Dumusois told a frustrated Djokovic.

Murray, who beat Djokovic in the Rome Masters finals on clay last month, went on to win the set when his opponent netted a backhand.

He had a break point in the first game of the second set but that was as good as it got for the Scot.

Djokovic, his aggression now channelled and matched by his accuracy, won the remaining games.

He raced to a 4-1 lead in the third set, breaking in the fifth game with a delicate angled drop shot that triggered chants of ‘Nole, Nole, Nole, Nole’ in the stands.

There was no comeback in that set for the 29-year-old Murray, who then dropped serve in the opening game of the fourth set.

Djokovic, who is now on a 28-match winning streak in grand slams, broke to love to lead 5-2. Murray pulled a break back but Djokovic shook off late jitters to win the title on his third match point when the Scot netted a backhand at the end of a nail-biting rally.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; editing by John Stonestreet)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

dna Morning Must Reads: From fresh sting video on Harish Rawat, Djokovic winning Madrid open; Game of Thrones and more

1. Uttarakhand crisis: New video stings Harish Rawat, gives BJP fresh ammoAs Congress and BJP prepared for a crucial test of strength in the Uttarakhand assembly on May 10, a new purported sting video targeting deposed chief minister Harish Rawat has sparked off a fierce political row.Read more here<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. We require more than 70,000 judges to clear pending cases: CJI TS ThakurThe country requires more than 70,000 judges now to clear the mounting backlog of cases, Chief Justice of India T S Thakur said on Sunday, making a fresh push for speedy appointments to the judiciary.Read more here3. Haji Ali Dargah has every right to ban women: Congress leaderThe grand old party Congress, which is already reeling into Augusta Westland chopper controversy, raked up another one on Sunday, when one of its senior leaders hailed the ban on women in the sanctum sanctorum of Mumbai’s famous Haji Ali Dargah. Nizamuddin Rayeen, chief of Mumbai Congress’ minority, also condemned efforts of the activists seeking “an equal right to pray”. Read more hereGame of Thrones: How the events of Tower of Joy led to the R+L=J theoryDepending on whose version you believe, it was either a love story or an abduction that sowed the seeds of the continuing political turbulence in Westeros. Read more here.5. Madrid Open: Djokovic defeats Murray to win 29th Masters titleWorld number one Novak Djokovic beat defending champion Andy Murray 6-2 3-6 6-3 in the Madrid Open final on Sunday to capture a record 29th Masters crown. Read more here

Nadal sinks Murray to reach final with Monfils | Reuters

MONTE CARLO Rafa Nadal continued his resurgence with a thrilling 2-6 6-4 6-2 victory over world number two Andy Murray on Saturday to set up a Monte Carlo Masters final against Gael Monfils.

Eight-times champion Nadal has struggled since losing the 2013 final to Novak Djokovic but overcame a strong early showing from Murray to book a spot in Sunday’s final.

Monfils beat eighth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-1 6-3 to become the first Frenchman to reach the Monte Carlo final since Cedric Pioline in 2000.

“It’s great to be back in the final,” said Nadal. “Every year is different; I’ll never be the same as I was in 2009 or 2013, I want to play better every day.”

Nadal started sluggishly, allowing an aggressive Murray to take the opening set before breaking serve in the seventh game of the second to take the initiative.

Another Nadal break at the beginning of the third set was asign of things to come and the Spaniard demonstrated his mastery on clay as the momentum slipped away from the ill-tempered Murray to reach the 100th final of his career.

“Rafa is playing better this year, his confidence is growing,” said Murray. “I’m not surprised by his comeback.

“I played a good match today for the most part,” continued the Scot. “But you have to take your chances. It was frustrating to see it slip away.”

Monfils, the 13th seed, twice broke Tsonga to tear into a 3-0 lead before closing out the first set 6-1, as his opponent struggled to rouse himself.

The second set continued much as the first had ended and Monfils raced into a 4-1 lead before Tsonga, perhaps drained after a testing quarter-final victory over Roger Federer, began to discover his rhythm.

(Editing by Tony Jimenez/Alan Baldwin)

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Resurgent Nadal sinks Murray to reach final | Reuters

MONTE CARLO, Rafa Nadal continued hisresurgence with a thrilling 2-6 6-4 6-2 victory over world number two Andy Murray on Saturday to reach the final of the Monte Carlo Masters.

Eight-times champion Nadal has struggled since losing the 2013 final to Novak Djokovic but overcame a strong early showing from Murray to book a spot in the final against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Gael Monfils who meet later in the day.

Nadal started sluggishly, allowing an aggressive Murray to take the opening set before breaking serve in the seventh game of the second to take the initiative.

Another Nadal break at the beginning of the third set was asign of things to come and the Spaniard demonstrated his mastery on clay as the momentum slipped away from the ill-tempered Murray.

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)

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Collapse of Murray’s father-in-law sours Briton’s day | Reuters

MELBOURNE The Australian Open tennis championships were rocked late on Saturday when Andy Murray’s father-in-law Nigel Sears collapsed during a match at Rod Laver Arena, overshadowing the world number two’s advance to the fourth round.

Sears, the coach of former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic, collapsed while watching the Serb’s third-round clash against Madison Keys, prompting medical staff to rush to the 58-year-old’s aid.

Adding to the surreal atmosphere at Melbourne Park, Briton Murray was oblivious to the unfolding drama as he battled Portugal’s Joao Sousa in the neighbouring Margaret Court Arena. .

Play was suspended for an hour at Rod Laver Arena, as Sears received treatment before being fitted with breathing apparatus and carried from the stadium on a stretcher.

He was taken to hospital for further treatment and was being examined by a cardiologist, organisers said.

A teary-eyed Ivanovic was eventually led back to centre court to continue her match against Keys and although the Serb fought hard she fell 4-6 6-4 6-4.

“Obviously it was a tough match,” Ivanovic said in a statement after declining post-match media commitments.

“I really wanted to win and have a chance to come back… Obviously a little bit disappointed.”

Murray, whose wife Kim Sears is due to give birth to their first child next month, completed a 6-2 3-6 6-2 6-2 win over 32nd seed Sousa and was led straight from the court by an official rather than conduct the usual courtside interview.

In an unnerving coincidence, Ivanovic’s second round match was also suspended after a spectator fell down the stairs at the same show court on Thursday.

Murray also skipped the post-match media conference and the Scot’s only comment was confined to his match.

“It was tricky. I didn’t feel great,” he said in a statement. “It was good to get through that one.”

MEDICAL EMERGENCY

The medical emergency overshadowed the action on day six which saw Spanish third seed Garbine Muguruza dumped out of the tournament and Victoria Azarenka given a huge boost in her bid to win a third title at Melbourne Park.

The 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka also reached the last 16, staying on track for a blockbuster semi-final against Murray.

Muguruza, rated one of the few women capable of threatening champion Serena Williams, slumped out at the hands of unseeded Czech Barbora Strycova, her 6-3 6-2 loss punching a hole in the draw.

With Romanian world number two Simona Halep sent packing in the opening round, seventh seed Angelique Kerber remains the top woman in the draw’s lower half.

But the path to a dream final against Williams seems laid out for 14th seed Azarenka.

A succession of injuries over the past two years and a bout of depression have slowed the Belarussian, who clinched back-to-back titles at Melbourne Park in 2012-13.

But her 6-1 6-1 humiliation of Japanese qualifier Naomi Osaka was her eighth win in succession and further evidence the sleeping giant has awakened.

“I had a lot of changes and emotions from last year that I still didn’t know how to handle,” the 26-year-old told reporters.

“It changed my life… Starting to be happy and organised and disciplined off the court, it changed my life on the court, definitely.”

WAWRINKA ADVANCES

Following Roger Federer‘s 300th victory in grand slams on day five and Maria Sharapova’s 600th on tour, Wawrinka notched his 400th career win with a triumph over Czech Lukas Rosol 6-2 6-3 7-6(3).

The Swiss fourth seed has been battling a cold at Melbourne Park but his game was in rude health as he smashed 18 aces and 45 winners in the late afternoon sunshine at Rod Laver Arena.

“As long as I’m feeling good on the court, that’s the most important thing,” a raspy-voiced Wawrinka said.

The 30-year-old Swiss must next weather the serving storm of Canadian dark horse Milos Raonic, who despatched Serb Viktor Troicki 6-2 6-3 6-4 at the Margaret Court Arena.

A quarter-finalist last year, 13th seed Raonic dedicated his win to victims of a school shooting in the remote Canadian town of La Loche, where four people were killed and a number injured on Friday.

“Stuff like this doesn’t happen much back home,” he told reporters.

“I’m sure not just in that small community but throughout Canada it was a lot of people that were sort of heartbroken over it.”

With a number of high seeds falling by the wayside, doors opened for lesser lights to shine.

Among them, Australia-born Johanna Konta defeated Czech Denisa Allertova 6-2 6-2 to become the first British woman into the last 16 at Melbourne Park in nearly 30 years.

Zhang Shuai, the last Chinese player left in the singles tournament, continued her fairytale run to reach the fourth round, having never previously been past the first round of a grand slam in 14 attempts.

(Editing by Ken Ferris)

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