By Sam Totterdell
Novak Djokovic completed an unprecedented treble double of Indian Wells/Miami titles as he beat Andy Murray 6-3 4-6 6-0 to take the Miami Masters title in almost 3 hours on court. This capped off an incredible week for the world no.1 who demonstrated his sheer dominance in the sport at the minute.
Current standings, Novak:17, Andy:8. This neck and neck rivalry may look lopsided but let’s not forget that Murray’s two grand slams came through beating Djokovic in the final.
Djokovic was the favourite considering he’s looked unbeatable all week and he showed why in his opening point hitting his trademark backhand winner up the line after a long first rally. After the second point, Murray showed he could do it too, pinging his return and approaching, but Djokovic’s incredible defending meant he somehow managed to salvage the point. This first game turned out to be considerably more dramatic than planned, at 30-15 Djokovic uncharacteristically netted an easy smash. Murray pinged a huge forehand return winner, break point. Danger averted, some early clutch play needed but Djokovic showed why he’s the best in the world and held. Some incredible shot making from Murray hitting every line on the court allowed him to hold to love and it looked like we were in for another classic.
Courteous of some huge backhands, Murray created another break point opportunity, and to say he milled a few shots would be an understatement and his raw power got him the early break! None of the players seem to be reading the script this week. Although it didn’t last long, Novak roared back with some stallion-esque play defending the court majestically. Mark Petchey summed it up with single word of “Extraordinary”. Oh wait… Murray can do it too! Three amazing… no… unbelievable rallies that Murray had no right to win kept him in check in his service game. No words can be used to describe this, if you missed it watch it. If you can’t, I am truly sorry. Murray continued his form into Djokovic’s game and broke to love. 3 breaks in 7 games now… and they’re serving well, it’s more down to the fact that we were watching two of the best returners ever to play the game. Unfortunately, next came a couple of over hit shots from Murray and Nolé, as his fans affectionately call him, broke back. The pair exchanged relatively comfortable holds until Murray found himself in trouble at 5-6, 0-30. This was danger time; Murray knew he couldn’t put a foot wrong here. When Murray knows he needs to do something, he does it. He went for an audacious drop shot… and it was inch perfect and beautifully disguised. 15-30, he played an enormous 35 shot rally before hitting the sweetest of cross-court backhands for a clean winner. Normal service was returned and into a tiebreak they went. Murray had lead their head to head in tiebreaks 8-6 so this was to be tight… but it wasn’t. Djokovic raced into a 4-0 lead coming out on top of every close rally with Murray unlucky and netted crucial forehands after enduring painful, long rallies. Despite a scorching backhand winner up the line, Djokovic took the breaker 7-3 to take the opening set which lasted over an hour. Advantage Novak. He has never lost to Murray after winning the 1st set.
A confident hold from Murray to open the second set reassured everybody that he was not going to roll over. Djokovic’s form however was unrelenting as he continued to hit sublime backhands, including a number of notable ones up the line for winners. It was becoming apparent to viewers that this man has very few weaknesses. After some poor shot selection Murray found himself in severe trouble at 15-40, 1-1. However somehow he dug deep and, with the help of a net cord and an incredible topspin lob, fought back to deuce. Again Djokovic wouldn’t let go; a huge forehand winner gave him another break point as he encouraged the crowd to raise the volume. Next came a timely Murray ace to rescue him. After a few more points, Murray managed to hold and stay in the hunt. Djokovic was becoming visibly frustrated by his inability to capitalise on key opportunities. Service games were exchanged unharmed until Novak was serving at 4-5. Murray was seriously pumped heading into this game. Courteous of two sloppy errors, including a double fault, Djokovic found himself at 0-30. Then lightning struck, Murray played an inhuman point recovering to hit a sufficient topspin lob before hitting a winner of the incoming smash! 0-40! Then Murray hit a huge backhand cross-court return winner straight onto the line! To a 3rd set they were going. A set to decide the champion. Although the stat nobody wanted to hear was that Murray had never won the deciding set of a best of 3 sets match against Djokovic.
After some incredible shot-making from both players and immense rallies, notably incredible defense from Djokovic returning 3 smashes in a row, Novak had a break point after an exchange he had no right to win. Immense hitting off of the backhand wing from Murray gave him temporary respite but it wasn’t for long as Djokovic was playing perfect tennis and took the break. Djokovic continued his incredible form holding serve, looking invincible as he continued to win points from ridiculous situations. Murray then found himself 0-40 down and he knew he was done if he was broken here but somehow he managed to claw his way back to deuce, and then save another 2 break points before netting another smash and on his sixth opportunity Djokovic broke courteous of a sloppy backhand from Murray. Murray’s day was up. Djokovic steam-rolled his way through the 3rd set to take it 6-0, like chapter 24 of their rivalry in the Australian Open Final. In doing so, he also became the first ever player to complete an unprecedented treble double of Indian Wells/Miami titles.
Overall it is safe to say Novak Djokovic is indisputably the best male tennis player in the world right now. Rafael Nadal is going to face an uphill battle to continue his dominance on clay from here onwards.