On the Brink of 37: Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray Brace for Epic Geneva Battle

Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have not played since January 2017

by Jovica Ilic
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On the Brink of 37: Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray Brace for Epic Geneva Battle
© AK BijuRaj / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray entered the ATP 250 Geneva draw with invitations, setting a potential second-round clash. If Murray beats Yannick Hanfmann in the first match, he will arrange the 37th duel against his coeval and great friend, the first since Doha 2017!

Interestingly, Novak and Andy could embrace their 37th meeting on the Tour a couple of days after their 37th birthdays. Murray withdrew ahead of the duel against Djokovic in Madrid two years ago, leaving that Doha final from seven years ago as their most recent encounter.

Novak and Andy kicked off their rivalry in Madrid in October 2006, unfolding an exciting rivalry that has seen Major and Masters 1000 finals. Two coevals battled in five notable finals in 2016, chasing the ATP throne and sending the struggle down to the wire.

They continued in the same style at the beginning of 2017, and no one could have predicted such a massive break in their rivalry in January 2017.

Novak Djokovic, Doha 2017© AK BijuRaj / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

More than seven years after their previous encounter, Djokovic and Murray could set another in Geneva, with both players entering the draw to raise their form ahead of the second Major of the season.

Novak leads Andy 25-11, winning their most recent duel after an epic battle. The Serb prevailed over the Briton in the 2017 Doha final 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 after two hours and 54 minutes of a grueling battle. The world's best players produced high-quality tennis, staying neck and neck and delivering one of the most thrilling title matches in the tournament's history.

Novak had the upper hand in the first part of the encounter, leading 6-3, 5-4 and serving for the victory in game ten. The Serb squandered three match points and dropped three straight games to keep the Briton in contention.

Murray had the edge early in the decider, but Djokovic endured all the efforts and secured his 67th ATP title with a single break.

Novak Djokovic, Doha 2017© AK BijuRaj / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

Thus, Novak remained undefeated against Andy after winning the opening set, winning all 20 encounters after gaining an early advantage!

The Serb almost missed this duel with the Briton, playing against five match points in the semi-final versus Fernando Verdasco and enduring all the obstacles en route to a trophy and a perfect start to the season. Murray made the difference with his first serve, although he struggled behind the second.

World no. 1 faced only four break points, suffering three breaks and failing to cross the finish line first. Djokovic denied five out of seven break points, reducing the deficit and emerging over the top. Novak tamed his strokes nicely, hitting more winners than unforced errors and taking ten points more than his opponent.

The Serb had a slim edge in the shortest and mid-range exchanges, with nothing separating them in the most extended ones.

Novak Djokovic, Doha 2017© AK BijuRaj / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray played a great match in the 2017 Doha final.

Novak played aggressive tennis, moving Andy around the baseline and doing a lot of damage with his down the line strokes.

There were only five break points in the opening 19 games, with Djokovic converting two and serving for the win. However, Murray survived match points and grabbed back-to-back breaks to prolong the battle and make a memorable encounter, seeking his 29th consecutive ATP win!

Novak also received a point penalty in the 11th game of the second set after smashing his racquet, making a fresh start in the decider and emerging at the top. Murray became more aggressive in the closing stages of the second set, eager to reduce grueling rallies and preserve energy.

However, they still embraced 50 extended exchanges, showing their incredible fitness and defensive skills. Djokovic survived a physical and mental tiredness early in the final set, bringing the victory home in style.

Novak Djokovic, Doha 2017© AK BijuRaj / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

Novak held after deuces in the first game of the match and denied a break point at 1-1 with a service winner, avoiding an early setback.

The Serb held at love in the seventh game and made a push on the return in the next one, taking four straight points and forging a 5-3 advantage. Djokovic wrapped up the opener with a cracking forehand down the line winner, moving 6-3 in front after 48 minutes.

They produced fine holds at the beginning of the second set ahead of another challenging service game for Novak at 2-3. The Serb denied a break point and closed the game after three deuces with a forehand down the line winner, keeping his initial shot intact.

The Serb fell in the first point of the seventh game, hitting the ground with his head but continuing the battle. Djokovic grabbed a break after Murray's costly double fault, moving a set and a break up and closer to the finish line.

Novak held in game eight and served for the title at 5-4.

Novak Djokovic & Andy Murray, Doha 2017© AK BijuRaj / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

The Serb faced a break point and saved it with a forehand winner before creating three match points.

Murray denied them after Djokovic's mistakes and pulled the break back after a forehand crosscourt winner, wrapping up a 13-minute game and prolonging the action. Novak received a point penalty at the end of the 11th game, and Andy earned two set points in the next one with a backhand down the line winner.

Murray forced Djokovic's error, clinching another break and introducing a decider after two hours and three minutes. Novak saved a break point in the sixth game of the final set with a smash winner, leveling the score at 3-3.

The Serb gained a boost and grabbed a break at love in game seven after the Briton's backhand error, moving in front and holding at 15 in the next one for 5-3. Murray served to stay in the match in game nine and held at 15, prolonging the battle and hoping for one last push on the return in the next one. Still, Novak fired a forehand winner, sealing the deal and lifting the trophy.

Novak Djokovic Andy Murray
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