LONDON - Novak Djokovic closed in on a last four berth at the ATP World Tour Finals after squeezing past Britain's Andy Murray in the latest chapter of their evolving rivalry yesterday.

Once again there was barely a cigarette paper between the two 25-year-olds as Djokovic chiseled out a 4-6 6-3 7-5 victory to take command of Group A at the season-ending showdown.

Apart from the opening set when world number three Murray could do no wrong, the quality did not reach the heights of their clashes at this year's Australian Open semifinal or the U.S. Open final, but it was rivetting fare all the same.

Some of the rallies resembled high-speed chess as first Murray held sway, then Djokovic got on top before holding off a late Murray fightback to seal victory in two hours 34 minutes.

It was his fourth victory over Murray this year with the other three clashes going the way of the Scot, most notably in an epic five-setter in the final of the U.S. Open when Murray became the first British man in 76 years to win a grand slam.

"The last two minutes of the match were about what decided it," Murray, who can still qualify for the semifinals if he wins his final round-robin match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Friday, told reporters when asked where the match swung.

Tsonga took on Tomas Berdych later yesterday with both players looking for their first win. «He broke at 15-40 and then I had 15-40 in the next game and didn't break, added Murray of a strange finale to a clash he seemed to have under control after taking the first set.