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Djokovic Retains Sony Ericsson Open Title

Novak Djokovic banked his 30th ATP title in Miami. The world number one downed Andy Murray 6-1, 7-6 to capture his third trophy at the Sony Ericsson Open. Djokovic became the first player to successfully defend at this event since Roger Federer in 2005-2006.

This was a repeat of the 2009 Miami final. On that occasion, Murray hoisted the big prize. The Brit was appearing in his third final of 2012, victorious in Brisbane and beaten by Federer in Dubai.

At this juncture in 2011, Djokovic was 24-0 with the Australian Open and BNP Paribas Open under his belt. Since winning at the Australian Open, Djokovic has had two defeats, each in the semifinal stage, one of them to Murray.

Out of nowhere in the opening set, after leading 40-0, Murray made two consecutive backhand errors and allowed Djokovic to later get to deuce. Down the road, three successive backhand miscues by Murray resulted in Djokovic converting.

The next game, down break point, Djokovic connected on a forehand up the line winner and ultimately consolidated for 4-1. Djokovic turned another game where Murray was serving with a 40-30 advantage and secured a second break. Soon, with a swift hold, Djokovic had pocketed the set.

Down 0-30 to start the second set, Murray reversed the tide to stop the skid of five straight service games for Djokovic. Then, Murray wiped out 15-40 on his serve to stay on serve at 2-1.

Again, Murray erased break point his next time out for 3-2 while Djokovic cruised on serve. But at 3-4, Djokovic saw his first pressure game of the set at 0-30. Poor returning and a myriad of backhand flubs by Murray gave Djokovic the game.

With Djokovic serving at 5-6, Murray failed to make him pay on a sleuth of second serves. Thus, the set went to a tiebreaker.

After getting back on serve, Murray double faulted gifting Djokovic a 3-2 edge. Ultimately, this was the key as Djokovic closed the second set 7-4 to claim the championship.

With two walkovers including the semifinals was Murray prepared for the final? The Brit replied “I felt up for it, no question about that. . . If you look at the start of the match, the game where I got broken, I was up 40Love and had game points. Then I had a break point in the next game and then another long game after that. There were three or four long games, all deuce games. I had the chance to win and didn’t. That was the difference in the first set”

Murray recognized that one of the strongest areas of his game disappointed him today “I missed a lot of second serve returns. . .That’s the difference when you play against the top players”.

Djokovic did not drop a set in capturing the trophy. But, after comfortable first sets, this was Djokovic’s third consecutive second set tiebreaker.

Djokovic stated “three similar matches, last matches of the tournament. I won the opening set 61 and felt great on the court. Then I had a lot of chances in the three opening games of [the second] where I could break, but I didn’t. That’s something to expect when you’re playing a top player, quality player like Murray”

Moreover, Djokovic expressed that the serve was important “luckily for me I came out with some good serving when I needed to. . .which was really important today to get a couple of free points and set up a good second shot and I [did] that when I needed to”.

Each Miami title has a different significance Djokovic iterated “the 2007 title was the first big title I won. [After] I started [having] some really big results in the big events. It was a big confidence boost for me, strong wind in the back for my career. I was still quite young and careless”.

Djokovic went on to say “then over the years, I got the experience playing at the top level, and got stronger physically, worked on my game, always seeking to improve. Last year’s tournament was great, especially final with Rafa [Nadal] went the distance. Till the last point of the match, didn’t know who was gonna win it. Again this year, I didn’t drop a set, which is very impressive. . .so this is a very positive thing for continuation of the season”.

Next up for Djokovic is clay with Masters 1000 titles to defend in Madrid and Rome. Djokovic will play Monte-Carlo after skipping it last year “clay, I think, demands the most physical effort out of all surfaces. So I have an extra week compared to the other seasons to prepare for Monte Carlo. . . I have more than enough time to get ready. Knowing that I had such a great clay court season last year and some wins in major events gives me confidence prior to this one”.

If Djokovic prevails at the French Open, he will follow in the footsteps of Federer and Nadal becoming the third player since 2009 to complete the career grand slam. Moreover, Djokovic still has the chance to make it a calendar grand slam.

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