This afternoon, Novak Djokovic tried to will his way to a tenth season title and maintain a perfect mark in finals. Unfortunately for the world number one, his body didn’t cooperate.
Broken for the second time in the second set, a mentally and physically battered Djokovic waved the white flag. Consequently, with a 6-4, 3-0 victory, Andy Murray collected his second Western and Southern Open trophy; his seventh Masters 1000 crown.
With a historic fifth Masters 1000 title this season, Djokovic was attempting for the third time to win back to back such trophies. Yet, his last two matches, Djokovic with a record of 57-1 showed signs of vulnerability.
In the quarterfinals, Djokovic dropped the opening set against Gael Monfils and had to climb back. Then in the semifinals, his opponent, Tomas Berdych served for the initial set before losing it and eventually retiring with a shoulder problem.
With Djokovic not at his best, Murray took advantage early on. By forcing his rival into errors, Murray secured the break in the opening game. With Djokovic’s forehand landing wide, Murray easily consolidated for 2-0.
Still Djokovic battled back. After fighting off a break point to hold serve in the third game, Djokovic had his first break point later in the set when Murray flubbed a backhand. Although Murray erased that one, Djokovic converted on the next to level the set at 3 all.
Yet, Djokovic could not sustain the momentum. With a sleuth of miscues, he promptly handed Murray double break point. A contentious 42 stroke rally ended with a forehand winner by Murray giving him the break for 4-3. After easily consolidating, Murray eventually carried the set.
Djokovic was misfiring from both wings and his serve was being hit with less power. Prior to the second set, Djokovic had therapy to his right shoulder with the hope that this would be enough to remedy his problem. Moreover, Djokovic altered his tactics using the dropshot and coming to net to guard against long rallies. But, these were to no avail.
With Djokovic’s backhand crosscourt finding the net, Murray had double break point to start the second set. When Djokovic pushed a forehand crosscourt wide, Murray captured the break.
With Murray ahead 2-0, Djokovic mishandled an easy overhead to stare at break point. When his subsequent backhand stroke bounced wide, Murray had 3-0, double break edge.
Thereafter, Djokovic decided he had enough and shook Murray’s hand. Seconds later, a huge downpour followed.
In analyzing the match, Murray stated “the standard of play in the first set was good”.. Murray said though “when [Djokovic] slowed down the serve”, he knew all was not well with the world number one.
While he was aware that Djokovic had an issue, Murray cited his primary goal was to “try to stay focus. . . It’s not the way I wanted to [win]. . . I had a chance in Rome [and could not close it out]. . . I’d rather beat him in three weeks’ time, that’s the goal”.
Murray is pleased with his performance this week, but admits “there are still things to work on. . .a few changes here and there. . . U.S. Open is my favorite tournament, I will bring my A game”.
In 1984, John McEnroe had 59-1 mark going into the U.S. Open. Djokovic with only his second defeat this year is at 57-2.
The U.S. Open is approximately a week away. With a 33-1 record on hardcourt, in spite of today’s result, Djokovic is still the person to take down at the U.S. Open. He knows it and so does the entire field.