Following a whirlwind summer, Andy Murray has this month been brought back down to earth, following defeat to Novak Djokovic in the final of the Shanghai Rolex Masters. Murray, who made history in September becoming the first British Grand Slam champion since Fred Perry in 1936, was beaten over 3 sets by the Serb 7-5, 6-7, 3-6.
After the seemingly unstoppable Murray had a hiccup in the Japanese Open earlier in October, the Masters has been a competition he could rely on of late, having won the competition for two years running. Certainly, it looked as though the Scot was destined to get the run of the ball, receiving two byes on the way to the final.
After drawing a free pass in the second round, and a late withdrawal from Florian Mayer putting him through to the fourth unscathed, luck appeared to be on the Brit’s side. Tempers flared early on though, with both players retiring rackets, leaving cash-poor students recoiling at the expensive destruction of equipment. The point at which Murray smashed his racket appeared to be the end for the Scot, as he lost a second set in which he surrendered five match points having been 5-4 up, and with a set in the bag.
But the gritty Serb fought back triumphantly and never looked like losing once he took the upper hand. The pair sit alongside one another in the world rankings, with Swiss legend Roger Federer currently occupying top spot, despite succumbing to Murray in the semi-final of this competition in straight sets.
Prior to facing Federer, Murray beat Alexandr Dolgopolov and Radek Stepanek – the latter winning the doubles’ strand of the competition with partner Leander Paes. Djokovic overcame five opponents on the road to victory, defeating Dimitrov, Lopez, Haas and Berdych.
Elsewhere, Heather Watson ended her season with a history-making win at the Japan Open, as she became the first Briton to win a WTA event for 24 years. Watson showed resilience and guts, saving four match points on the way to a well-deserved win in three sets against Chinese player Kai-Chen Chang.
The victory sees the 20 year old surpass Laura Robson to become British number one, after the 2008 Wimbledon junior champion looked set to dominate the women’s game. But the forgotten Watson has risen to world number 50, and cannot wait to challenge at a higher level next season. She said, “I’m so excited – I can do even better, climb the rankings and maybe get another title or two. I haven’t set my goals yet. I’ll be doing that over the next few months. It will probably be top 40 before top 10.”