A truly superb year of men's tennis reached a fitting climax on Sunday with the final it deserved. The two standout players of 2016 - Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic - battling it out for the prestigious title of ATP Tour champion, with world number one status also up for grabs. Never before in the tournament's history at the O2 had so much been at stake, and never before in Murray's career had he looked so much like the complete champion.
As richly deserved as the Scot's Major victories at Wimbledon and Flushing Meadow were - in some ways scant reward for a prodigious talent in a golden era - this was Murray on a different level. Few in the 17,000 capacity crowd would have predicted the ease with which he claimed his first ATP World Tour Finals title, particularly after such a draining contest with Milos Raonic in the semi-finals.
But this was Murray on the back of a 23-game winning run - a series of victories responsible for four titles in just six weeks. The manner of Murray's 6-3 6-4 triumph over Djokovic - in the duo's first meeting since the first week of June - suggested his run will be extended further yet. Serving, returning, movement, control - all the ingredients are there for Murray at present, for whom the winter break comes just at the wrong time.
Much has changed since the two 2016 titans locked horns at Roland Garos in the French Open final. At this point Djokovic looked invincible, having just won his fourth consecutive Grand Slam. Murray, while vastly improved on clay, still looked way behind his main rival. But in elite sport, it only takes fine margins. The return of Ivan Lendl as coach gave Murray a massive boost going in to Wimbledon, while Djokovic's confidence was hit by a surprise defeat to Sam Querrey. And then to Juan Martín del Potro at the Olympics.
Suddenly, it seems, the game has changed. Men's tennis has a new number one on merit, who will now be setting his sights on the as-yet elusive Australian and French opens in 2017. Djokovic, meanwhile, has new motivation - firstly in terms of a genuine challenger in the post-Federer/Nadal era, but also in view of an emerging crop of talent coming up on the rails. With a new generation of starlets eager to emulate Murray by gatecrashing the top table, Djokovic is suddenly looking over his shoulder.
Stan Wawrinka's quietly-assembled trio of Majors means he already commands a place among the super-elite, but the likes of Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori - both of whom were so impressive against Murray at the O2 - now look ready to win a Major. In Nishikori case, he has the weight of an entire continent's expectation on his shoulders, but everything we have seen so far suggests the Japanese star can cope with the pressure. 2017 could be his real breakthrough year.
With the Australian Open coming up in January, ahead of the clay and grass court seasons, there's an exciting few months in store for tennis fans. Sportsworld offers VIP hospitality packages for the Major tournaments, including the French Open and Wimbledon, giving you the chance to see Murray, Djokovic and co in live action. To make a booking for these world-class sporting events, call 0208 971 2966 today.