2016 was a golden year in the tennis career of Andy Murray, and he ended it in fine fashion too, winning his one and only ATP Finals title.
Andy Murray is, without a doubt, the greatest British tennis player in history as of this writing. Even though the Scotsman’s recent years have been plagued by injuries, his records speak for themselves.
3 Grand Slam singles titles, 46 career singles titles, and of course back-to-back Olympic gold medals. It is a tally most would kill to have, especially in an era of tennis where greatness was the norm.
And of all of Murray’s years in the game, it is safe to say that 2016 was easily the most impressive of the lot. That was the year he made the finals of three out of the four Grand Slams, winning one of them (Wimbledon).
He also became the first and so far only male tennis player to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals. And, most importantly, he became the first British player to be ranked number 1 in the ATP rankings.
It is the kind of year that is, in many ways, hard to replicate. And Murray confirmed himself as the year-end Number 1 by winning the ATP Finals too.
Incidentally, that event took place exactly on this day (November 20) five years ago. Which makes it as fine a time as any to look back on a glorious year for Andy Murray – and indeed, the peak of his tennis career.
2016 started on a positive note for Murray, as he entered the finals of the Australian Open. However, he would lose out to Novak Djokovic – thus becoming the player with the most Australian Open final appearances as runner-up.
He would again make the final of the subsequent Grand Slam, the French Open. And he would again lose to Djokovic in the summit clash.
In a stroke of luck for Murray, Djokovic would lose in the third round of Wimbledon 2016 to Sam Querry. This made the tournament Murray’s to lose.
He would go on to claim the win, beating Milos Raonic in straight sets in the final. He then went one better and claimed the Olympic gold in Rio.
Murray then became the world’s top-ranked player after the Paris Masters that year, the final ATP 1000 event before the Finals.
Going into the Paris Masters, he needed to both win the title and hope that Djokovic did not reach the final; both were on opposite ends of the draw. The Serbian would, amazingly, lose out to Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals.
Yet Djokovic’s relatively early exit made things simpler for Murray. He now only needed to reach the final of the Paris Masters to attain the Number 1 ranking. He did so via a walkover, with his semi-final opponent Milos Raonic pulling out due to injury.
Murray would go on to win the title and enter the ATP Finals as the world number 1. And he, alongside Djokovic, was one of two favourites to claim the crown – and the year-end Number 1 honour in the process.
Given that Murray and Djokovic were seeded 1 and 2, the only way they would meet would be in the finals. And both would go on to dominate their respective groups, winning all three games they played.
Murray beat Stan Wawrinka in straight sets, dispatching the Swiss star 6-4, 6-2. He was tested a bit more against Japan’s Kei Nishikori, the latter winning the first set via a tiebreak.
However, Murray would rally to win the next two sets 6-4, 6-4 and register a win. He also oversaw a comfortable 6-3, 6-2 win over Marin Cilic.
Djokovic, for his part, would also drop just the one set in the group stages. He beat Milos Raonic in straight sets courtesy of two tie-break wins. He also beat David Goffin – subbing for Gael Monfils – 6-1, 6-2.
Dominic Thiem was able to take a set off the Serb via a tie-break, but Djokovic would rally and win the next two sets 6-0, 6-2 to win the match.
In the semis, Djokovic easily saw off Nishikori 6-1, 6-1 to book his spot in the final. Murray, meanwhile, made hark work of things against Raonic.
The Canadian claimed the first set 7-5, with the subsequent two sets being taken by Murray – but only on tie-breaks. As such, Djokovic headed to the final with better momentum.
However, Murray put in a performance for the ages against the Serbian star. Djokovic’s ability to withstand pressure and make comebacks is one of the reasons he is so successful in high-pressure games.
But Murray ensured he never really got going. He claimed the first set 6-3 before winning the second set 6-4. Perhaps mindful of Djokovic’s ability to go the distance, he went all out from the word go.
Thus, he would claim his one and only ATP Finals – and also become the year-end Number 1.
Sadly for Andy Murray, this would be the peak of his career. Since 2017, he’s struggled with injury issues and even had to have two surgeires on his hip – one of which included a replacement.
However, he will always have his achievements to fall back on – for they are legendary in any which way.