A “movie scenario” in the words of Novak Djokovic; the “perfect ending” to a historic season for home favorite Andy Murray.
Time ran out for one brave finalist on Sunday night but, against all well-reasoned forecasts, it was not Andy Murray.
Two childhood friends at the peak of their careers locked in battle for the top spot in tennis.
It was the match they’d all been waiting for and there could only be one winner.
Britain’s Andy Murray beat five-time champion Novak Djokovic to win his first ATP World Tour Finals title and end 2016 as the world number one.
With the year-end top ranking on the line, Murray won the much-anticipated final 6-3 6-4 at London’s O2 Arena.
In beating Serbian Djokovic in an hour and 42 minutes to win his first ATP World Tour Finals title, Murray secured the world No1 spot at the end of a long and glorious year.
In the process, he has confounded pessimists who predicted the rigours of the past week – not to mention the previous three months – would drain him of the will to win.
“Obviously it’s a very special day,” Murray said. “I am happy to get the win today and finish the year as No1. I never expected it.”
In what was probably his most extraordinary win over Djokovic since he won the first of his three grand slam titles in New York four years ago, the prince of perversity, riding a wave of adrenalin after one of the toughest weeks of his career, beat the man whose crown he had snatched away so impudently in Paris a fortnight ago.
In so doing Murray confirmed he was not only statistically the best player in the world, but rightfully so in every way.
He may remain so well into the summer of 2017.
After his 24th consecutive victory (6-3 6-4), Murray is that man, joining coach Ivan Lendl and boyhood idol Andre Agassi in an exclusive pantheon of just 17 players to have held the year-end No. 1 position since the ranking system began.
“To finish the year world No. 1 is very special. It’s something I never expected,” Murray reflected after the match.
It was a feat of endurance the Brit had made it here at all; two record-breaking matches had led to speculation the 29-year-old wouldn’t be able to go the distance against an apparently reinvigorated Djokovic.
But buoyed by a sell-out home crowd, he quickly dispelled any lingering doubts to take the match on his third Championship point.
“Today we were both part of history,” a gallant Djokovic told the crowd. “It was an honor to be on the court and part of the big occasion.”
“Andy’s definitely No. 1 in the world. He’s the best player and definitely deserved to win.”
Their last meeting – June’s Roland Garros final – saw Djokovic become the first man to hold all four majors simultaneously since Rod Laver in 1969.
Having confirmed his status as the year’s best tennis player in the final match of the season, Murray expressed his intention to remain at the top.
“It’s taken a huge effort over the last five, six months to get to No. 1. I would obviously like to stay there”