Britain's Andy Murray revelled in ending the year as the planet’s No1-ranked player after brushing aside rival Novak Djokovic in the climax of the ATP World Tour Finals at London’s O2 Arena.
Murray made a mockery of a gruelling three-hour semi-final clash with Milos Raonic on Saturday to dispatch 12-time grand slam winner Djokovic 6-3, 6-4 – the Scot’s 24th consecutive victory.
It was also a fifth successive title for the 29-year-old, which will see him bank £2m, although for Murray the greatest triumph was ending the 12-year stranglehold of the big three – Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal – on the world No1 spot.
“It’s a very special day,” said Murray. “Playing against Novak in a match like this, we’ve played grand slam finals, Olympics and then matches like this, it’s been tough rivalry and I’ve lost many of them. Thankfully I managed to win today.
“To end the year as world No1 is very special and something I never, ever expected.
“I felt like I was playing more for No1 today rather than the tournament. I never felt like I was playing a match for ranking before. That’s all anybody had been speaking to me about for the last few weeks.
“I said a few weeks ago that I most likely had to win every match I played between now and the end of the year [to finish 2016 as world No1] and it ended up that way.”
Djokovic had won 24 of the pair’s 34 previous meetings and Murray was hardly helped by an energy-sapping three hour and 38 minute tussle with Wimbledon finalist Raonic of Canada the day before. Djokovic had breezed past Kei Nishikori, 6-1, 6-1, his last-four tie.
“I was really tired today and didn’t feel great when I got up this morning,” added Murray. “I was very tired last night before I went to bed and just wanted to go out and give everything I had. Thankfully it was enough.
“It’s bit of bluff as well. My fitness trainer was telling me I’d put the work in and I had to trust the work I’d put in. I wasn’t really believing it when he was telling me. If the match had started off with a lot of hard rallies, it would have been hard for me.”