Andy Murray cements his number one status in style
World's best tennis player caps extraordinary year with crushing victory over Novak Djokovic in ATP World Tour Finals
Andy Murray's spectacular triumph at the ATP World Tour Finals has been hailed as proof he's is the world's best tennis player - and that he can lay claim to being Britain's greatest-ever sportsman.
The Scot beat Novak Djokovic, the man he has usurped at the top of the rankings, 6-3, 6-4 at the O2 Arena on Sunday despite fears his gruelling journey to the final would leave him exhausted.
But it was the Serb who wilted as Murray "crushed doubt, banished fatigue and dismissed his rival majestically", says Matt Dickinson of The Times.
He continues: "This was the true coronation for the world number one. Two weeks after a points computer officially gave him that status, Murray picked up his racket and planted it in the summit of the game with a commanding performance."
Murray's extraordinary year could be considered the "greatest ever by any British sportsman", adds Dickinson.
Murray's 25th straight win was "probably his most extraordinary" against Djokovic, says Richard Williams in The Guardian.
"The prince of perversity, riding a wave of adrenaline after one of the toughest weeks of his career... confirmed he is not only statistically the best player in the world, but is rightfully so in every way," he says.
Oliver Brown of the Daily Telegraph says the player's victory and "coronation as world number one marked the completion of one of the most remarkable coups in sport", adding: "Murray asserted his alpha-male standing with the same ruthlessness he had shown since mid-summer, scattering his rivals like a runaway freight train.
"Over 8,000 points behind his nemesis in the rankings in June, after defeat in the French Open final, he has pulled off a warp-speed annexation of power. He espied Djokovic's vulnerabilities and entered every late-season event he felt physically able to compete in, winning them all."
But he does not intend to stop there. "For a decade, Murray has followed diligently in the contrails of three of the greatest players who ever lived, paying ever more diplomatic tributes to their genius. Those days as the reluctant bridesmaid are over," says Brown.
The world's number one will take a short break, but he is sure to be in training for the Australian Open by the time he is expected to pick up the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award next month.
He could add another title before then if the growing calls for him to be knighted are heeded. "If the country's honours system is to have any consistency, there is little doubt that this is one sporting knighthood that should come to pass," says Brown.
Murray makes a strong start at ATP World Tour Finals
Andy Murray made a positive start to the ATP World Tour Finals in London, beating Marin Cilic in straight sets to boost his hopes of finishing the year as the world number one.
The Scot ascended to the top of the rankings just over a week ago, but will have to match the efforts of Novak Djokovic at the end-of-season showdown in London.
He was given a "tumultuous welcome" at the O2, says Mike Dickson of the Daily Mail. But his opening encounter was "no cosy lap of honour". He had to "battle hard before imposing his will" on Cilic.
Murray made 14 unforced errors in the first set, but still emerged victorious, as Cilic contributed 17 mistakes.
Murray's "patchy start" was understandable says Matt Dickinson of The Times. The standing ovation he received "signalled both public support for his new status and heightened expectations that come with it".
After scraping through the first set he was on "full beam" in the second, says Dickinson, "as he ended up romping to a 6-3, 6-2 victory in 90 minutes".
It was Murray's 20th win in a row and he "can rarely have been happier with his end-of-season form", says Kevin Mitchell of The Guardian. "He will be hard to stop from here, particularly with a bit of extra zip on his second serve."
Murray's win shifts the pressure back onto Djokovic, who plays Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic tonight.
"The 02 Arena was abuzz with talk about Djokovic on Monday and his latest sign of being somewhat frazzled," says Dickson of the Mail, who noted that during his three set match against Dominic Thiem the Serb launched a ball into the crowd in frustration and reacted angrily when questioned about it afterwards.
"Signs of vulnerability remain," says Simon Briggs of the Daily Telegraph. "Djokovic might have come through his first test, but... the almost frictionless progress that has carried him through most of the last five years appears to have stalled, at least for the moment."