Murray, Djokovic target year-end top spot

While frustrated at losing the opening set, the 29-year-old said he was pleased with his performance as he targets a return to the ATP top ranking before the end of the year.

After reaching the semi-finals of the Tour Finals for the last three years, Wawrinka would love to go one better this year.

Murray's motivation now is to improve on his dismal World Tour Finals record and ensure he consolidates his position at the top of the standings by ending the year as the No 1. "The great start of the second set helped me", he added. "But first of all, it's a very good experience for me to play three matches against top-10 players". "The crowd here is really respectful of the tennis and gives great support". After the first set I lost a little bit of energy which is required to play close and good sets against Novak. I played almost perfectly, but Since Wimbledon it's not been so great'.

In contrast, Murray, who has never been past the semifinals of the event, has to survive a tricky group featuring US Open champion Stan Wawrinka, as well as Japan's Kei Nishikori and Croatian Marin Cilic, who have both beaten the Scot this year.

Novak Djokovic was in combative form on and off the court as he began his ATP World Tour Finals campaign with victory over Dominic Thiem. "When you step on the court you feel a little bit better and have little more confidence and feel better about myself".

Murray has enjoyed the best season of his career, but if he is to hold on to the number one spot he must come through the most hard run of matches he has faced in terms of rankings.

In the circumstances, tournament organisers will be more than happy that there is more at stake at the O2 Arena than usual. "I've said over the last few moths I expect Novak to start playing his best tennis again", Murray, who boasts a 19-match winning streak, told reporters on Saturday. This marks the first time he has ever surrendered a set to the 23-year-old.

The Serbian, victor of the season-ending event for the last four years and five times in total, lost an opening set tiebreak to Austria's debutante Dominic Thiem 12-10.

Djokovic agrees, saying: "I have only words of praise for what he has achieved in the previous year or so".

His joy was short-lived though as Djokovic roared through the second set in a mere 22 minutes, with Thiem winning just ten points.

Sunday afternoon's match sees the four-time defending champion Novak Djokovic take on first time qualifier Dominic Thiem in an intriguing starter at 2pm United Kingdom time.

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