Tennis fans hoping for another classic as Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic prepare for showdown at the O2


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The Independent Online

Following the early example set by Andy Murray in defeating number five seed Thomas Berdych, Novak Djokovic entertained the evening session crowd by beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets in his first match of the ATP World Tour Finals yesterday.

The world number one didn’t have it all his own way though, finding himself playing catch-up to the Frenchman for much of the first set. After successfully defending three break points, Djokovic weathered the storm to come through a first set tie break victorious. Unable to replicate the fight he showed in the first set, seventh seed Tsonga duly found himself match-point down inside 20 minutes of the second, a point that he lost by miscuing a straightforward backhand volley, much to the evident relief of Djokovic.

During his post-match press conference, the Serb said “It means a lot, especially here when you’re taking part in an event with the best eight players in the world”, and went on to say “Hopefully I can carry this on to another match against Andy in two days”.

With that statement, Djokovic refers to his burgeoning rivalry with number three seed Andy Murray, against whom he will play his next match of the tournament on Wednesday. This much anticipated fixture represents the 17th occasion the two 25 year-olds have faced each other since their first meeting in the 2006 Madrid Masters.

Djokovic currently leads Murray nine wins to seven, but of their last five encounters Murray has won three, including wins in the semi-final of the Olympics and the Final of the US Open. However, their head-to-head record over three sets is closer, with Djokovic leading 7-6.

The prospect of seeing these two heavyweights lock horns again will undoubtedly see the O2 Arena filled to capacity with eager tennis fans anticipating another memorable occasion. The semi-final of this year’s Australian Open produced the pair’s first five-set epic, in which Djokovic recovered from two sets to one down to win in just under five hours. The meeting replicated the final of the previous year’s competition, in which Murray was beaten in straight sets in less than three hours.

The British number one finally cast aside his Djokovic hoodoo last September by beating his old foe over five sets in the final of the US Open - the second encounter between the two that fell just short of the five hour mark.

Despite Wednesday’s match only taking place over three sets, Murray’s recent resurgence against his one-time tormentor suggests that another enthralling encounter between the two superstars may be in the offing.