Novak Djokovic Wins Third Miami Title
April 1, 2012 -- Exactly five years ago today, Novak Djokovic won his first Miami Masters 1000 title. Today he won his third and joined the lofty status of two legends that have also won three at The Sony Ericsson Open: Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras.
This is Djokovic's 11th overall Masters win. He is the fourth different reigning number-one player to win the title since 1985, joining Ivan Lendl (1986, 1989), Pete Sampras (1994) and Roger Federer (2005, 2006). And he is the first man to win back-to-back Miami titles since Roger Federer in 2005-2006.
"I thought I played a good match from start to finish," the #1 seed told Mary Jo Fernandez on court, immediately following the final. "I believe the one [win] in 2007 was a huge springboard to my career."
Djokovic defeated the #4 seed, Andy Murray, in what could have been a season benchmark had Murray won. He would've been 3-0 against Djokovic for the year. However, the Scot played lackluster tennis during the first set and couldn't quite build on the consistency that he fought for in the second. His performance today flew in the face of his record in Masters' finals where he was 8-1.
Scoreline -- 61 76(4) -- in just over two hours.
Novak had all the shots, topped off by stellar serving. He placed the ball with keen alacrity and stepped up his aggression at the decisive moments. Murray's rhythm went haywire plus his chances of countering the pressure from the Serbian's racquet.
Points won off first serves, Djokovic - 74%. Points won off second serves -- 63%.
For Murray the respective stats were 62% and 53%.
For a man who earned two walkovers during the week, Murray didn't seem as fresh as he expected. In fact, the two of them looked as if they were practicing during the initial games of the match, until Djokovic broke and then broke again.
On this warm afternoon in Miami Murray played defensive tennis 85% of the match. Perhaps, and at first, he figured if he could extend rallies Djokovic would tire since he'd been on court more hours. Instead, Murray displayed his droopy demeanor and, thus, his droopy play. His balls landed short, his anticipation was off, and his footwork out of synch with the occasion. Additionally his usually lethal backhand misfired time after time, becoming a detriment instead of ace in the pocket.
Murray said in his post-match news conference that he was most disappointed in his return of serve, but added, "Novak deserved to win today and has played the best tennis all week."
Many fans and pundits thought they might be seeing a re-match of the 2011 Australian Open, where Novak sweep Murray in three. But Djokovic could probably relate to Murray and his difficulty in stringing points in his favor. In Paris last year Djokovic didn't play for four days straight, then walked onto Court Phillippe Chatrier to face Roger Federer in the semifinals. It was this match that ended Djokovic's 43-match winning streak.
Perhaps the tempo of tournament matches, with one or zero days off in between matches, is better preparation. Otherwise players could begin to believe that rest has too much of a benefit, and foolishly underestimate the task. The mind plays a clever game, which hopefully Andy will learn to master. Because he is an extremely talented man.
"Andy was really close to winning the second set," Djokovic said, as reported on BBC Sport online. "The match could then have gone either way."
Working alongside Ivan Lendl for the past four months has only produced one title for the Scot, Dubai, where he defeated his rival from today. Murray said his relationship with Lendl 'is good so far.' And Lendl assured fans that Murray does listen, although he frequently portrays a stubborn star with his own answers.
It would be great to see this brilliant athlete loosen up. Maybe a faster court would suit him better. This one in Miami is extremely slow and the balls fuzz up quickly, making it even more difficult to penetrate the court.
After Mardy Fish's sad-sac loss to Juan Monaco, 61 63, on Friday, the American went off on this topic.
"This surface is extremely slow," Fish began, as reported on tennis.com. "I would love just to have a couple tournaments that are quicker surfaces. It's not necessarily the surface, per se, but the balls. They get so big and fluffy even after a warm-up. You have to execute big time to beat those guys playing on a slower surface."
Fast court ... slow court ... either way Djokovic was the master of ceremonies this afternoon. Had the balls been smoother and flown faster, Murray probably wouldn't have pulled off the victory. Because once Djokovic gets going, he's virtually impossible to stop. In fact, he is 22-0 in finals after having won the first set. And, since 2010, he is 133-3 after having pocketed the first set. Those are steep odds for any opponent to realize.
As the world's tennis eyes turn either to green clay or red clay, we bid a hearty congratulations to Novak Djokovic on his championship title from the 2012 Sony Ericsson Open. Novak's next dream ... winning the French Open and achieving a career Grand Slam.