Andy MURRAY welcomed the decision to keep the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London but left himself with work to do to extend his own campaign at the O2 Arena this year.
A new deal has been in the pipeline for a long time, so it was no surprise when it was announced yesterday the contract had been signed for a further two years through until 2015.
The tournament has received universal praise from the players since moving from Shanghai in 2009 and this year will see the millionth spectator, while the schedule is also in London’s favour.
The regular indoor season finishes in Europe while currently there is no gap between the Paris Masters and the World Tour Finals, making a switch to Rio de Janeiro, London’s most likely successor, impossible.
Murray said: “From a player’s perspective, in terms of how our schedule is, it’s incredibly convenient and it’s worked very well the last few years. They get very good crowds. It’s a fun arena to play in.
“I look forward to hopefully getting a chance to play here more, but I know how hard it is to qualify for this competition, so I have to work hard and win a lot of matches to do that.”
Murray played the seventh instalment of his 2012 rivalry against world No. 1 Novak Djokovic yesterday, and once again it was close, but this time the Serb came out on top, winning 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 in two hours and 34 minutes. Their head-to-head record for the year had been tied at 3-3, with Djokovic winning epic matches at the Australian Open and in Shanghai last month, but Murray coming out on top at the Olympics and, most notably, in the US Open final.
The third seed was almost faultless in the opening set but could not maintain his momentum and a third-set fightback eventually counted for nothing as Djokovic secured the crucial break in the 11th game.
The momentum swung in the middle of the second set when Djokovic took his first break point after Murray chose to serve and volley.
“There are decisions you make in matches,” he said afterwards. “If they come off, you get told you’re a genius. If you miss them, then you’re an idiot.”
There is still all to play for in the final matches in Group A tomorrow, though, after Tomas Berdych beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-5, 3-6, 6-1.
The result means none of the players are yet through or eliminated, although Djokovic only needs a set against Berdych while a straight-sets win for Murray over Tsonga would be enough.
The first qualifiers at the O2 were Wimbledon champions Jonny Marray and Freddie Nielsen, who continued their London fairytale by beating defending doubles champions Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor 7-6 (7/3), 4-6, 12-10.
Today’s schedule sees Roger Federer aim to make it 14 wins from 14 matches against David Ferrer, while Juan Martin Del Potro meets Janko Tipsarevic.