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In what is shaping up to be the new top rivalry in tennis, Novak Djokovic held off Andy Murray on Wednesday at the ATP finals.
The top-ranked Serb got the big break when he needed it late in the third set and beat Murray 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 at the O2 Arena.
"Another great match. Another great performance from both of us," said Djokovic, who has known Murray since they were 11 years old. "I didn't expect anything less, other than a tough match that went down the wire and was decided in the last point."
Despite the win, Djokovic still hasn't advanced to the semifinals at the season-ending tournament for the top eight players in the world. Tomas Berdych beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 in the late Group B match, keeping all four players alive in the tournament.
On Friday, Djokovic will face Berdych, while Murray will take on Tsonga.
Djokovic is 4-3 against Murray in 2012, with his biggest win coming in a five-setter in the Australian Open semifinals. But Murray had won two of the previous three, including in the semifinals of the Olympics and in the U.S. Open final - another five-setter.
Overall, Djokovic leads the third-ranked Murray 10-7 in head-to-head meetings.
"I think both of us probably see each other's games pretty well. Especially this year, because we've played so much," Murray said. "But the one thing I would say is, this year I think both of us probably have seen things in each other's games probably improve, and that's why there's a lot of long rallies, and the matches are incredibly tight."
Murray looked unbeatable at the start Wednesday, breaking Djokovic in the first game and losing only three points on his serve in the first set.
"I don't think I played bad in the first set. It was him playing really well, serving extremely well," Djokovic said. "He lost only couple of points on his first serve throughout the whole set."
- Associated Press