Murray loses to Djokovic as Serena Williams dominates once again
Even if the final set’s score might suggest otherwise (6-0) Murray pushed Djokovic hard, really hard, and showed signs of the sort of form that earned him grand slam titles. Djokovic was twice down a break in the opening set, only to come back and win on the tiebreak. He lost the second set, and earned a code violation at the end of it when he ripped a towel rudely out of the ball-boy’s hand in frustration, but in the end, Djokovic had the greater staying power, just as he has in most of their recent meetings. After putting Murray in the tennis equivalent of a choke hold at the US Open last September, the world No 1 said: “I get the feeling that if I stay with him, and don’t allow him to get into a big lead, there is a point where I have that edge, maybe physically.” Even though Djokovic’s instincts are normally to attack, faced with a man whose racket is running hot, as Murray’s was at this early stage, he can switch into a sort of trench warfare where he shuttles left and right along the backcourt as if on rails, bunting every ball back to a good length that leaves his opponent needing to make a miracle shot.
Murray and Djokovic play similar types of game and that has perhaps been Murray’s downfall in a sequence that has now seen him lose 10 out of their last 11 meetings (the only exception being the 2013 Wimbledon final). “I’d like to congratulate Novak,” said Murray in his post-match speech to the crowd. “Winning in Australia, in Indian Wells and here is a great start to the year. It’s been a good start for me too, huge progress from where I was last year. I’m not quite there with Novak yet but I feel that I’m getting a little bit closer: I just need to keep working hard. Thanks to the crowd for making it a great atmosphere on the court. I’m sorry I couldn’t make it more of a fight in the third set. I was trying but my legs were tired and I couldn’t quite make it happen.”
Djokovic has now pulled off the American hard-court double, Indian Wells and Miami, in successive seasons, and three times in total, in his career. He has won all the significant tournaments of 2015 to date, to go with the eight consecutive victories over top 10 players that he put together at the end of last year. A top tennis Tipster is beginning to talk about the calendar grand slam in men’s tennis.
In the Women’s tournament, Serena Williams romped to the Miami Open title with a 6-2, 6-0 destruction of Carla Suárez Navarro on Saturday afternoon. A top tennis expert would suggest talk of a grand slam season for the American if she steers clear of injury too, which seems very likely. The only serious threat to her dominance would seem to be her age: she will turn 34 in September, and is already the oldest woman to hold the No 1 ranking. Over the past fortnight, Williams showed how far she has come mentally under the guidance of Patrick Mouratoglou and even if she has always been unstoppable on her best days, she has now learned to fight through her flat periods, to increase her safety margins: “I had to improvise in some of my matches,” said Williams as she posed with the Miami trophy. “Quite frankly, I had to take some pace off today because I wasn’t serving the way I normally serve. I’ve just been dealing with injuries, and when I’m practising I’m hitting groundstrokes and just not hitting enough serves. On the flip side, it’s good to know that I can win relying on my groundstrokes or relying on other shots. It’s not just one shot that makes me good. It’s an all-court game.”
The best betting experts know that it would be wrong to say that Williams was not tested in Miami, as her semi-final against world No 3 Simona Halep was brilliant, easily the best contest of the WTA season so far.