Celebrates birthday with his first win over the World No. 1 on clay
ROME, ITALY – Andy Murray clinched a straight sets win over World No. 1 Novak Djokovic on a gloomy day in Rome, passing another British milestone.
Murray became the first British man since Patrick Hughes to win at the Fora Italico in 1931. As the weather threatened to play havoc with the schedule once again, Murray’s focus and patience was rewarded as he won his 12th Masters 1000 trophy.
Murray kept his focus while Djokovic struggled to cope with the heavy conditions on the court, made worse by bouts of drizzle, with Murray breaking early for a 4-1 lead in the first set, and hanging on for the advantage.
Djokovic became more and more agitated with the conditions as he slipped or nearly turned his ankle over several times as the clay got heavier, but seemed to be dialling in a little more at the beginning of the second set.
He brought up his first break point on the Murray serve but could not convert, and was further frustrated with two more that went begging. Insult was added to near injury as Djokovic’s sliding would often come to an abrupt halt in the grippy clay, when Murray converted his first break point of the second set. It was enough of an advantage to hold on to as Murray was gifted a double fault on match point with an amazing winner on match point to win his first Rome title (Via ATPWorld Tour YouTube).
As reported by AFP, Murray took strength from looking at a picture of his daughter Sophia on this, his 29th birthday, before taking to the court, and playing a controlled and focussed match.
He said to reporters after the match: “Every time I go up against him I know I have to play great tennis to win,” said Murray. “Any time you beat the best player in the world, it’s a big win.”
Djokovic had to fight through Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals, and played a marathon semi-final against Kei Nishiori and looked irritable at times during the final.
He said in AFP.com: “I knew it would be an uphill ride. He’s been playing at a very high level and to compete with him in the long rallies that we usually have requires a lot of energy.
“I’m not taking anything away from Andy’s win. He was the best player of the tournament. He’s using the court better now, and has more variety in his shots from the baseline.”
There is no doubt that Murray is playing his best tennis of his career on clay over the past two years, and having reached the semi-final, final and now winning the title at the three clay-court Masters 1000 tournaments, he is setting himself up to be a solid contender for the business end of the French Open.
While it feels premature to call him the favourite, he has proved that he can beat some of the best players on this surface.
Roland Garros takes place between 22 May and 5 June.
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