1 on 1: The final showdown. Babasola Opaneye November 19, 2016 Sports, Zero - Zero It has indeed been a stunning year for Andy Murray on the ATP tour this year. The seemingly weaker or least glamorous of the ‘big four’, Murray has during his career been in the shadows, not because of a lack of talent or ability but because of the sustained brilliance of firstly Roger Federer, then Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in that order. These four have guaranteed their places as tennis greats and at least three of them should possibly be amongst the top 10 players ever to wield a tennis racquet. With a total of 43 grand slam singles titles and 82 ATP Masters 1000 series titles shared amongst Federer, Nadal and Djokovic, nothing more needs to be said. The numbers speak for themselves. Such is the exalted company Andy Murray has found himself, and that is without including the sometimes unplayable Stan Wawrinka, who has the habit of popping up at odd times with scintillating tennis displays. In fact, in another era, we could have been speaking about Andy Murray as possibly the greatest of all time. It is therefore great to see that Andy Murray has taken the pains to put the effort in, up his game and make an attempt to wrestle away the world of tennis from the stranglehold of the Djoker. Novak Djokovic had swept all and sundry before him and after winning at Rolland Garros, it was a question of how many, not if any. However, Murray has maintained a high level of consistency, winning eight titles on the tour so far, culminating in his capture of the number one ranking. As a result, the world tour finals in London has an extra edge; a fight for the title as well as a shootout for the number one ranking. There has been no doubt that Murray has improved many aspects of his play; his confidence and mental strength has also grown in leaps and bounds. However, none could have predicted this rapid rise. Maybe it can be attributed to the birth of his child. There seems to be something with tennis players and fatherhood. It seems to propel them to greater heights. Whatever is responsible, one can only hope that long may it continue. Speaking of the greats, one cannot help but experience a hint of sadness at the rapid decline in fortunes of Rafael Nadal, a true great and arguably the greatest clay court player ever seen. Himself and Roger Federer are conspicuous by their absence at the world tour finals but whilst this is more expected in the case of Roger due to his advancing age, Rafa’s decline has probably been more painful as his has been due to his long running battle with injuries which have severely affected the form of someone who more than most regularly displayed an overpowering physical prowess and aura of invincibility. Nowadays, he cuts the picture of a battle weary soldier, one on whom the battle has taken its toll. It is only fitting the story that he has been ruled out for the rest of the calendar year with injuries. On a lighter note, maybe he should try fatherhood. Who knows, it just might work. Anyway, I’m sure many tennis lovers would love to see Rafa fit and firing once again. Roger Federer too. It appears that these four players have been separated in two somewhat; one half battling for supremacy at the top while the other half battling to show that the best days are not over completely. The perfect gift to all lovers of the game would be to see high quality tennis from these four as they battle for supremacy for in truth, they have been great ambassadors of the sport, helping to increase worldwide interest in the game. We are currently heading for a winner takes all, final showdown between Djokovic and Murray for the year ending prize, as well as bragging rights. All that can be done is to sit back, relax and watch out for who would be crowned the number one male tennis player in 2016.