Murray primed for marathon rematch with Djokovic
Four months after they last met on British soil, in the semi-finals of the Olympic tournament, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic will renew their long-standing rivalry here at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals this afternoon.
There might be less at stake this time – both men could lose today's round-robin match and still progress to the semi-finals of this season- ending finale – but they will each be aware of the psychological edge that victory could deliver, especially as their head-to-head record this year stands at three wins apiece.
"That was a big match for me," Murray said as he recalled his straight-sets victory over the Serb at the Olympics. "Both of us had a lot of chances. He had loads in the second set, especially early on. I saved a lot of break points. I know how much all the players want to do well at the Olympics and how much it meant to them, so to beat him in the Olympics was a big thing for me."
Djokovic said he expected a long match. The two have similar styles, preferring to rally from the baseline, and the sets they play tend to last for around an hour. Both are exceptional athletes, and both keep forcing their opponents to hit the extra ball.
The Scot, meanwhile, said he had a met a man who knows more than most about marathon efforts. When Murray (right) travelled to the O2 Arena on a boat from his hotel for a practice session at the weekend he was introduced to Jason Arday, a 24-year-old sports lecturer from south London. Arday, who is a big tennis fan, is an epileptic who is aiming to raise £1m for a range of charities before he is 40. His exploits include running 30 marathons in just 35 days.
"He had asked to meet me and it was pretty cool speaking to someone like that," Murray said. "He told me that on the 20th day he fell and had a fit, a seizure. He had a hairline fracture in his leg but he continued to do it. He obviously loves tennis. He watched the US Open and was a big fan. I went back on the boat with him as well. [Juan Martin] Del Potro was there and the Bryan brothers, so he was pretty pumped."
Yesterday's Group B matches produced wins for Roger Federer and David Ferrer. Federer, who is attempting to win this title for the seventh time and for the third year in a row, claimed a record 40th match win in the tournament – one more than Ivan Lendl – when he beat Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic 6-3, 6-1 in impressive fashion.
David Ferrer, who won his first Masters Series title in Paris on Sunday, maintained his winning run when he beat Del Potro 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in the best match of the tournament so far. Del Potro appeared to have taken charge when he levelled at one set apiece, only for the indefatigable Ferrer to come back as strong as ever in the decider.
Singles: Group A
Novak Djokovic v Andy Murray (not before 1.45pm)
Tomas Berdych v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (not before 7.45pm)
Doubles: Group B
R Lindstedt/H Tecau v M Bhupathi/R Bopanna (12pm)
M Mirnyi/D Nestor v J Marray/F Nielsen (not before 6pm)