‘Extraordinary level in Doha’

first_imgDjokovic brought world No 1 Murray’s 28-match winning streak to an end on Saturday to retain his Doha title in a three-set thriller.The Serb star won 6-3 5-7 6-4 in a high-quality, action-packed match between the two best players in the world lasting almost three hours.It was Djokovic’s 25th career victory over Murray and he laid down an early-season marker against his great British rival, before the Australian Open later this month.In what was their first meeting since Murray beat the Serb at the ATP World Tour Finals in London in November, snatching Djokovic’s number one ranking in the process, Sky Sports Tennis expert Croft felt both men dragged each other to the limits.”It was one of the most extraordinary matches I’ve witnessed in terms of its level,” Croft told Sky Sports. “They have such an incredibly tense rivalry anyway, but they seemed to bring out the best of each other in this match.”I’m sure that when they look back on their careers they’re both going to thank each other for pushing themselves to new heights.”I have to say that the level was breathtakingly brilliant. If that’s a taster for what we’ve got in store for 2017, we’re in for a special rollercoaster ride, I think.”Croft expects to see Murray, who lost Melbourne finals in 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016, four of those to Djokovic, take on his arch-enemy in more big finals this year.”It’s highly likely we’ll see them in many finals, she admitted. “Their level is so high, but it’s also exciting to see Stan Wawrinka, Juan Martin del Potro, Grigor Dimitrov, Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev in the mix too. And you now also have the ‘big four’ back with Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal in the frame again – it makes for such an exciting year.”Of course Andy will be disappointed not to have won in Doha, but I’m sure he was never going to underestimate Novak Djokovic. Losses always sharpen you up.”I saw the line ‘Pass the Parcel’ in one article, and I thought, ‘what a great headline’. It feels like you don’t know whether these two are going to be batting backwards and forwards with a lot of intense pressure on that number one status this year.””They’re going to keep pushing each other,” said the former British No 1. “I think that the tennis was just absolutely phenomenal. It was a privilege to sit down and watch them play that kind of tennis.”It’s like them saying ‘wow’ – ‘is this what it’s going to be like for the rest of the year?’ when they shook hands at the net.”They know what they’re up against when they walk out onto court and they both rise to the challenge. It was great to see Novak back playing to such a high level at the beginning of the year. I believe he has sent out a very clear message to the rest of the Tour, saying ‘don’t write me off just yet’.Croft also believes the Scot, who received a knighthood in the New Year’s Honours, couldn’t be more deserving, adding: “It’s fantastic news. It shows everything that he put into his career has paid off and been appreciated.”Check our game-by-game updates from Andy Murray’s matches at the 2017 Australian Open by following our blog on skysports.com/tennis, our app for mobile devices and iPad or our Twitter account @skysportstennis.last_img

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