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Murray cements spot at the top

Andy Murray, above, wins the ATP World Tour Finals final against Novak Djokovic, ensuring he finishes 2016 ranked No. 1.

Associated Press

Andy Murray, above, wins the ATP World Tour Finals final against Novak Djokovic, ensuring he finishes 2016 ranked No. 1.

LONDON — Andy Murray needed to win the final match of the season to ensure he finished the year ranked No. 1. He did it Sunday rather easily.

Murray beat Novak Djokovic 6-3, 6-4 to earn his first title at the ATP World Tour Finals and remain No. 1 until next season.

"It's taken a huge effort the last five, six months to get there," said Murray, who won Wimbledon, took over the top ranking two weeks ago and has won 24 straight matches. "I'm aware that's going to be extremely difficult (to stay No. 1) because I had a great year this year. I only managed to do it by one match."

Murray replaced Djokovic at No. 1 in the Paris Masters, but Djokovic, ranked No. 2, could have regained the No. 1 spot by winning Sunday at the O2 Arena.

And Murray seemed vulnerable heading into the final, especially after playing three sets and more than 31/2 hours against Milos Raonic in Saturday's semifinals. He started against Djokovic with two double faults in the opening game, but soon it was Djokovic who was struggling with his serve as unforced errors piled up.

"There was no serious chance for me to win (Sunday's) match," Djokovic said. "From the very beginning we could see that. (Murray) was just a better player all in all."

Normally so steady with his groundstrokes, Djokovic missed easy shots time after time against his fellow 29-year-old, finishing with a whopping 30 unforced errors and only 13 winners. Murray had 15 unforced errors and 13 winners.

"I was solid enough when I needed to be," Murray said, perhaps understating his accomplishment. "You never beat a player as good as Novak if you don't play well."

Murray is the first man other than Djokovic, Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal to finish the year No. 1 since American Andy Roddick in 2003.

Despite winning the year's first two majors, Djokovic struggled in the second half of the season. He lost to American Sam Querrey in Round 3 at Wimbledon, ending a 30-match winning streak at majors. And he lost to Stan Wawrinka in the U.S. Open final.

"Well, the last five, six months have not been ideal," he said. "But sometimes it's just normal, I guess … to live these kind of things."

Murray cements spot at the top 11/20/16 [Last modified: Sunday, November 20, 2016 7:45pm]
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