(REUTERS) Novak Djokovic made an immense statement in his bid to rule men’s tennis again when he defeated Andy Murray, the man who deposed him as world number one, 6-3 5-7 6-4 in an epic Qatar Open final in Doha yesterday.Looking back to near his peerless best at times in a game of searing quality, the Serbian missed out on three match points and had to repel a roaring Murray comeback before ending the Briton’s 28-match, five-tournament winning streak.In their first meeting since Murray won their season-ending climax at the ATP World Tour finals, the Briton ran into a rejuvenated Djokovic who, despite having problems with his racket hand and receiving two warnings for his behaviour, prevailed thrillingly in their 36th contest.The world number two said it was “the dream start” to 2017 in his build-up to the defence of the Australian Open title later this month and defeat provided food for thought for Murray, who lost for the 25th time against his old rival.“It was close, a very physical battle. All the way to the last shot, you never know with Andy. It’s no strange occurrence for us to play three sets for three hours,” Djokovic told Eurosport.“It means a lot. For the last three months of 2016, I haven’t felt that confident on court and didn’t play that consistent. But to start 2017 with a win over the world number one and my biggest rival was a dream start so I’m hoping I can get the best out of it.”Djokovic had looked out of sorts as he struggled to tame Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in Friday’s semi-final and he started inconsistently again, also requiring treatment to a bleeding right thumb in the third game.Yet Djokovic began playing with an authority that he had not displayed all week and was so frustrated after losing one 29-shot rally that he was warned for hitting the ball away petulantly towards his box.Still, he pressurised Murray, making his breakthrough in the eighth game as the Scot surrendered the crucial break with a mis-hit forehand.When Djokovic cashed in on a sloppy service game, in which Murray delivered two double faults, to take a crucial 4-3 lead in the second set, he looked unstoppable.He seemed certain to wrap up the victory serving at 5-4 but a couple of missed backhands and courageous aggression from Murray led to him missing out on his three match points. The Briton pounced to break serve — a feat he has now achieved in an impressive 112 successive matches.Djokovic received a point penalty for smashing his racket which handed the 11th game to Murray and the Scot rammed home his ascendancy by breaking again to take the second set.Yet just when Murray seemed to be taking control physically, with Djokovic looking increasingly weary, the Serbian produced an inspirational game to break to love at 3-3.When he served for the match again, he made no mistake, crashing a forehand winner to seal victory.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Notre Dame didn’t score in the first or fourth quarters.David Hamlin kept Matt Kavanagh in check, Dominic Lamolinara made six saves and No. 7 Syracuse’s (11-3, 5-1 Big East) defense stymied No. 1 Notre Dame (10-3, 4-2) all night long at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., in front of 19,875 en route to a 10-4 win.“The defense I thought was stingy all day,” SU head coach John Desko said. “To hold a team like that to one goal in the second half is great for our cause.”Offense was sparse from the get-go. Neither team scored in the first 19 minutes. Both teams sputtered from the opening faceoff. The game didn’t look like a Top-10 showdown.But Notre Dame came alive in the second quarter.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAfter Hakeem Lecky tied the score at one for Syracuse, Westy Hopkins gave the Fighting Irish a 2-1 lead at the 5:23 mark in the second quarter.Less than a minute later, Kavanagh – a freshman attack who came into the game leading the Irish with 36 points – showcased why he’s been Notre Dame’s most consistent weapon all season. Kavanagh whizzed a lefty sidearm shot underneath the arm of Hamlin.It was a shot that killed Syracuse’s defense less than two weeks ago against Hobart when Alex Love scored six goals.Notre Dame surged into halftime with a 3-1 lead and appeared to have all the momentum.Fans saw a glimpse of the Notre Dame team that’s climbed to No. 1 in the country, but it didn’t last long.Syracuse’s defense dominated in the second half, stifling Kavanagh and the rest of the Notre Dame offense.Late in the third quarter, Hamlin and Kavanagh dueled one-on-one again. This time, Hamlin got the better of the freshman sniper. Kavanagh attempted two shots within 10 seconds. Both were contested, though, and both sailed to the left of the net.Notre Dame didn’t score the rest of the way.“We were preparing for them all week,” Syracuse defender Brian Megill said. “We knew what they were going to throw at us.”Lamolinara didn’t have to do much, but he stifled the Irish whenever he needed to make a save.Will Corrigan busted out a sweet inside-out move in the third quarter and rifled a shot in Lamolinara’s wheelhouse. But Lamolinara was all over it, deflecting the ball toward the ground and gobbling it up.“You got to give your hats off to Dom,” Megill said. “There were many times where it easily could have been a two-goal swing the other way, but Dom came up standing on his head most of the game.”Lamolinara only made six saves on the night, but Syracuse didn’t need much more out of him. The Orange’s defense confused Notre Dame’s offense. The Irish met walls of SU defenders throughout the second half, only attempting five shots in the fourth quarter.Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan was visibly agitated with his team’s performance. He didn’t credit Syracuse’s defense much. Instead, he just blasted his players.“We were bad with the ball all night long,” Corrigan said. “We couldn’t handle it in hardly any situation.”Syracuse dominated on ground balls throughout the game. Chris Daddio, Steve Ianzito and Peter Macartney all finished with three. Macartney laid a massive hit on David Miller late in the third quarter. The Orange was more aggressive and shut off Notre Dame’s pesky offense.Daddio’s performance at the faceoff X – he took all 16 faceoffs for Syracuse and won nine – paved the way for the Orange’s offense.“I don’t know what the statistics were, but I don’t need to know that we got crushed in ground balls,” Corrigan said.The Orange and the Fighting Irish meet again on Thursday. The story may be different then. But on Saturday night, Syracuse’s defense turned a closely contested game into a laugher in the second half.Hamlin and Megill were too physical for Notre Dame’s attacks and Lamolinara did what he had to. Despite playing its fifth game in two weeks, Syracuse executed its defensive game plan for the Fighting Irish perfectly.“We were all playing really well,” Megill said. “The communication was there this week. All legs were rejuvenated from the last month or so with those five games in whatever, how many days.” Comments Published on April 27, 2013 at 11:13 pm Contact Trevor: firstname.lastname@example.org | @TrevorHass Facebook Twitter Google+