Honestly, you couldn’t script the start of the season more poetically. 2017 began as 2016 ended, the top-2 players in the world battling for a coveted championship. In November, Andy Murray defeated Novak Djokovic in straight-sets at the ATP Finals, clinching the year-end World #1 ranking. Tonight in Doha, Novak Djokovic won a three-hour, three-set thriller to draw first blood in the new year. And it was a hell of a match…
 N. Djokovic (SRB) d  A. Murray (GBR) 63 57 64
Set-1’s drama started before the first sit-down, as Novak bloodied his thumb, scraping the court while reaching for a volley. At 30-all in game-2, he was forced to stop play and get bandaged up. The two kept pace for 30-minutes, then Andy sent a forehand long, handing Novak the first break and a 5-3 lead. Djokovic would serve out the set at love.
In the second, both battled through 3-all, when Novak took a nasty spill on the court, rattling Andy’s concentration. It looked worse than it was. Novak earned his second break of the match and launched his march toward victory. Up 5-4 and serving for the match, Novak earned three championship points, but couldn’t square the circle. Andy played big when it mattered, leveled the set, then broke the defending champ again with a huge backhand pass off a Novak second serve. We were on to set-3.
In the third, the match turned into a thankless, punishing grind. At 3-all, Novak appeared to be physically struggling, gasping and stretching between points; but Andy couldn’t put a single service point together. Djokovic broke the two-time Doha champion at love, then served out the match.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC. Champion.
FF def. Andy Murray 63 57 64
SF def. Fernando Verdasco 46 76(7) 63
QF def. Radek Stepanek 63 62
2R def. Horacio Zeballos 63 64
1R def. Jan-Lennard Struff 76(1) 63
ANDY MURRAY. Road to the Final.
SF def. Tomas Berdych 63 64
QF def. Nicolas Almagro 76(4) 75
2R def. Gerald Melzer 76(6) 75
1R def. Jeremy Chardy 60 76(2)
Championship Biography. Novak Djokovic.
THIS 29-YEAR-OLD IS THE QATAR EXXONMOBIL OPEN DEFENDING CHAMPION, AND ADVANCED TO TONIGHT’S CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH AFTER SAVING 5 MATCH POINTS IN A REMARKABLE SEMIFINAL VICTORY OVER FERNANDO VERDASCO. LAST YEAR IN DOHA, HE DOMINATED THE DRAW, AND CAPTURED THE TITLE WITH A COMMANDING WIN OVER 2014 CHAMPION RAFAEL NADAL. HE WOULD GO ON TO WIN HIS 6TH AUSTRALIAN OPEN TITLE, COLLECT FOUR MORE MASTERS-1000 TROPHIES, BRINGING HIS CAREER TOTAL TO AN UNHEARD OF 30 MASTERS-1000 TITLES. THEN IN JUNE, HE TRACED A HEART IN THE CLAY AFTER WINNING HIS 12TH GRAND SLAM TITLE AT ROLAND GARROS; BECOMING ONLY THE 8TH MAN IN TENNIS HISTORY TO EARN THE CAREER GRAND SLAM, AND THE FIRST SINCE ROD LAVER TO HOLD ALL FOUR MAJOR TITLES AT ONCE. A FOUR-TIME YEAR-END WORLD #1, HE’S SPENT 223-WEEKS AS THE TOUR’S TOP-RANKED PLAYER. HE’S A DAVIS CUP CHAMPION, AN OLYMPIC BRONZE MEDALIST, AND HAS AMASSED 66 CAREER TOUR-LEVEL SINGLES TITLES IN ALL. FROM SERBIA, PLEASE WELCOME DEFENDING QATAR EXXONMOBIL OPEN CHAMPION…NOVAK DJOKOVIC
Championship Biography. Andy Murray
TONIGHT, THIS 29-YEAR-OLD HAS SET A NEW RECORD HERE IN DOHA. HE IS THE FIRST PLAYER IN THE 25-YEAR HISTORY OF THE QATAR EXXONMOBIL OPEN TO HAVE REACHED THE FINAL FOUR-TIMES. HE WAS A FINALIST HERE IN 2007, AND WON BACK-TO-BACK TITLES IN 2008 AND 2009. HE’S NOW WON 28 CONSECUTIVE MATCHES DATING BACK TO LAST SEPTEMBER. IN 2016, HE BECAME A FATHER FOR THE FIRST TIME…THEN WON A CAREER-BEST 9 TOUR LEVEL TITLES, EARNED HIS THIRD GRAND SLAM TITLE AT WIMBLEDON, CAPTURED HIS SECOND OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL IN RIO, AND FINISHED THE YEAR BY WINNING FIVE CONSECUTIVE TITLES, INCLUDING THE ATP FINALS…WHERE HE CLINCHED THE YEAR-END WORLD #1 RANKING. A DAVIS CUP CHAMPION, HE NOW OWNS 44 TOUR LEVEL SINGLES TITLES IN ALL, AND LAST FRIDAY – LEARNED HE WILL RECEIVE A KNIGHTHOOD IN RECOGNITION FOR HIS SERVICE TO TENNIS AND CHARITY. FROM GREAT BRITAIN, PLEASE WELCOME 2-TIME QATAR EXXONMOBIL OPEN CHAMPION AND THE #1 PLAYER IN THE WORLD…ANDY MURRAY