Murray Trips Over Finish Line as Djokovic Captures Sony Ericsson Miami
by Jeremy Davis | April 2nd, 2012, 9:52 am
  • 42 Comments

Andy Murray continued to show he has the chops to challenge the world’s best but, like his coach Ivan Lendl early in his career, come up just short each time.


On Sunday Murray looked in charge late in the second set against world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, but the dominant Serb was able to right the ship and pull out a 6-1, 7-6(4) win to successfully defend his Sony Ericsson Open title from last year.

“I’ve won three times here,” Djokovic said. “I think that says enough about how I feel playing in Miami. I love the crowd…I have been really playing well in the last couple of years here, so this is going to be very encouraging for me prior to the claycourt season.”

Djokovic joined the illustrious ranks of Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi as players to win three Miami crowns.

“I’m playing at the peak of my form and I’m playing the best tennis that I have played,” Djokovic said. “The competition is getting stronger, I believe. Everybody is so professional nowadays. So that makes it even tougher for anybody to win a title. But I’m ready for it.” 

Not ready for it was Murray, who was overwhelmed in the first set, and couldn’t take his chances in the second, falling to 5-8 career against Djokovic. Murray was the fresher in the final after receiving injury walkovers during the event from Milos Raonic in the third round and Rafael Nadal in the semifinals.

“I didn’t return well today, which is normally one of the best parts of my game,” Murray said. “That was the difference, in my opinion. Not getting into enough of his service games because I missed too many returns. If I was able to get into more longer rallies on his service games, then maybe it would have been a different result in the second set.”


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42 Comments for Murray Trips Over Finish Line as Djokovic Captures Sony Ericsson Miami

mat4 Says:

I noticed a dose of contempt about Novak in Muzza’s interviews. It is almost always something like “I didn’t play well, I could have won”, “he’s good, but nothing special”, “if he has done it, I can do it too”, “I feel that I was the better player…” etc.

It is understandable, of course. They are about the same age, they started together, and Novak’s results must deeply hurt Andy’s ego. His terrible slump, last year after the AO, was not only because he lost in a slam final, but also because he lost it against somebody he thought to be better than.

Since Novak started his home run last year, there has been an important evolution in the relationships among the top four. First, we witnessed the end of the “Rafole bromance”. Then, Murray, who trained with Djokovic for two weeks for the AO, suddenly distanced himself from the Serb. Then Djokovic, last May, complained about the impossibility to have true friendships at the top. Finally, Rafa complained about Roger when the Swiss didn’t backed him up at the player’s counsel.

On the other side, there is a regain of respect between Federer and Djokovic (the press conference after the USO semi excepted; Roger was clearly exasperated).

Of course, there are concrete reasons for this. Rafa has lost his race against tennis history and Roger. Andy has no excuses left (“those two guys are just too good”). Novak made Roger looked good, and it is not anymore about Rafa beating Roger, but about match-ups and style of play. Novak is now more able to understand what it is like to be 285 weeks at the top.

It is an intriguing topic.


jane Says:

“couldn’t take his chances in the second,” hmmm, did Muzza have that many chances in the second? Seems to me Nole faced only one break point the entire match. And even in the tiebreak I think Nole was up a minibreak and lost it but then got it back; I don’t recall Murray being ahead in the tiebreak.

In fact, it was Nole who generated lots of break points in the second set and it was he who couldn’t convert them. He converted only 2 of 8 chances. I think he had break chances in both early games of the second set.

Usually Muzz will generate more bps than he did yesterday and it could be due to a few reasons that he didn’t (or all three of them): 1) He didn’t return as well as he normally does, 2) Nole has been working on placement with his serve so maybe it was a little something new? and 3) Muzza may’ve been rusty from lack of match play.

But I don’t think saying he “couldn’t take his chances” totally reflects that second set. Nole had a number of chances he couldn’t take either. they were battling closely.

mat4, interesting theory. In their post-match speeches Murray was very gracious in what he said, as I thought was Nole. Maybe it’s also the context of the pressers that put lots of pressures on the players to say stuff? Just a thought?


andres Says:

This was kind of a boring match with very little intensity.

Murray have reasons to be concern with his performance this last couple of weeks. Over all he played five matches, only winning three. His wins were against Falla (almost a walk by), Simon (basically an inferior version of Murray) and Tipsarevic (he kind of get lucky on that one). And today he lost against Djokovic who probably played at 70% of his capabilities.

On the other hand Djokovic almost defended all the points from last season, the only thing that prevented that was a human serving machine, so he should be satified with his performance.

Federer also has reasons to be satisfied, winning a tournement that was very unlikely for him to ever win again. Anything that he could get on Miami was basically a bonus, and losing playing well ,against someone he is fond of as Roddick, wasn’t no big deal.

As for Nadal, he looked impressive on early rounds on both tournements but kind of deflated when he faced stronger competition. The end result of this part of the season for him being a bad loss with Federer, an injured knee and the extension of his hardcourt title drought.


Angel Says:

andres and it doesn’t look pretty good either for Nadal going into the clay court season. He is low in confidence right now (more than 10 months titleless), in Montecarlo Novak is going to play so Rafa could lose in the final and with that some important points over there (he could lose number 2 before the French, which could imply a semifinal match there against Novak). Besides I think Rafa is making a poor decision (again) playing Barcelona, he could arrive to Roland Garros really tired and with those knees presenting troubles again I don’t know but I don’t think he is winning the French this year. But of course all this is just speculations so we’ll have to wait and see what happens.


jake Says:

indeed a boring match. you cannot just return and return the ball back and forth and wait until the other guy get tired and make a mistake in the end. but in the end still a good week for tennis.


Peter Says:

I thought Murray reverted back to his old ways in this match. The mental reserve he had in during the Australian Open was gone – he was back snapping at the ballboys for towels, grimacing after every error. I am not a pro athlete, but I did do a very competitive sport in college, and I know that if you are scared at the top instead of calm and positive, things aren’t going to wok out.


Eric Says:

ooof… Rafa is playing Barcelona? Terrible idea! Didn’t he learn anything in 2009? You can’t play for six straight weeks and still always be fresh for the FO!


mat4 Says:

@jane:

It is very difficult to be precise, as you without any doubt know. They have to be correct and gracious in press conferences, but sometimes they slip a bit and reveal their inner feelings or thoughts. Murray slipped a bit after Rome, then after the last AO, and again at the end of his interview.

And then, there is the body language. Just look at their hug after the AO 2011, and the one after Miami. It is quite different. Novak always initiates a hug. The first time, Andy accepted it, the second it looked a bit odd, didn’t it? There is a film about the Novak/Rafa relationship, I think you could make one about the Nole/Muzza one.

Then, there was a film about Djokovic and Federer in Basel. The way they shook hands revealed a competitive spirit, a confrontation, but they also touched each the other’s upper arm, and it is a sign of closeness most of the time.

There has been a shift in relationships, I am quite certain. I don’t know all the details, of course, but I have eyes to see, and certain things are so obvious that it is not just a theory.

I speculate about the underlying reasons, I do, but for the rest, I am quite sure.


kriket Says:

Murray is obviously trying to cheer himself up with that kind of talk, trying to make an impression of confidence, “I should have, could have won… it’s just a bit of bad luck and a question of time before I become GOAT”. Obviously he’s trying to persuade himself to believe his own words rather than the public. Everybody knows what happened, people aren’t blind, so he’s just trying to “think positively” even in defeat, but he’s trying a little too hard. He talks the talk but rarely does he walk the walk.


harry Says:

@mat4, really interesting comments!


mat4 Says:

@harry:

Thanks, harry. I would like to be able to express my thoughts more precisely, though.

I wrote some … of the same kind in answer to Dave (the last paragraph). Of course, it could be just a construction of mine, but you may find it interesting too.


jane Says:

mat4, I know what you’re talking about with Rafa and Nole for sure, though I thought the reactions at the AO this year were somewhat warmer? I too feel like Fed and Nole seem to respect each other more now, perhaps even appreciate each other. I wonder if Lendl is a factor in the change with Andy and Nole? I kind of agree with kriket that it’s probably just a “think positive” technique, to make himself feel better. I still get the feeling they’re mates, but sure Muzza wants to win some titles too, and so that competition element still factors in. They’re all negotiating how friendly they can be while still being rivals. Maybe the friendliness between Rafa and Fed even worked to his detriment, as we’ve discussed before, maybe not. But it’s interesting to speculate.


mat4 Says:

@jane:

I wrote some wild speculations here too:

http://www.tennis-x.com/xblog/2012-04-02/9247.php

I was a bit harsh, I admit, but I can’t really hide how much I am deceived by Andy.


harry Says:

@mat4, i agree with your comments now that you were, perhaps, a bit harsh on Muzza in your earlier post. But I find your comments on their interpersonal dynamics interesting — do you know where i can watch the film/video on Nadal-Nole that you mentioned earlier?


mat4 Says:

@harry:

This film was very popular and if I remember well it could be found on tennis.com, welovetennis.fr, but I don’t have a precise link.


mat4 Says:

But here, you can find proofs that I was wrong:

http://thedoublebagel.com/?cat=54


jane Says:

LOL, mat4. That’s why I said, don’t you think the net embrace and co-sitting and speeches at the AO were warmer again? That’s the vibe I got.


mat4 Says:

Come on, jane. They were so tired they would fall in anybody’s arms, even Masha’s or Ana’s.


jane Says:

hee hee mat4 you’re on a roll.


mat4 Says:

On a more serious note. I think that Nole was really saddened with the development of the situation.

But on the other side, it is not easy to beat a friend for the fifth time in a row, took his no 1 ranking, and then hug him just like nothing happens.

When you watch the film from the like, you can notice that Rafa was the one bending over the net in Wimby (I think). Perhaps the situation was already changing at that moment.


mat4 Says:

… from the link… sorry.


mat4 Says:

Is it just me or does Andy play his FH with more spin than ever?


harry Says:

@mat4, great “rafole” link. Really enjoyed watching it — merci et bonne journee!


harry Says:

@mat4, my impression is that Murray gets more torque into upper body while playing his forehand these days. so he gets lot more power as well (apart from spin). but i could be easily wrong…


Daniel D Martin Says:

I think Andy played an aweful game yesterday
Novak was as sharp as usual and even though looked much weeker than last year ,was avid to catch on any mistake Andy gave him ,… and there were manny!


mat4 Says:

@harry:

I thought about that too, but I was to lazy to find an older match to compare.

About the positioning for the return: I was right about Novak, wrong about Andy, who jumps to the same spot to return.


harry Says:

@mat4, you mean Nole’s position in the deuce court, right? but then it would have made him vulnerable to the serve up the T (which i think is the easier serve anyway, given the shape of the net cord)… i have to watch the highlights again to figure it out your point…


harry Says:

ah! mistakes galore from typing it out fast: i meant “i have to watch the highlights again to figure out your point…”


mat4 Says:

@harry:

compare his positioning against Federer with the match yesterday. In the deuce court he was closer to the middle of the court, in the advantage court he was stepping the sideline. It looked strange, but he left room for Andy to serve on his forehand.


harry Says:

ok, i got you wrong the first time. i still need to watch the highlights again.

but your point about nole’s newer strategy in the deuce court makes sense — making andy go for a more difficult serve (especially in a final!)…


Ajet Says:

”mat4 Says:
Come on, jane. They were so tired they would fall in anybody’s arms, even Masha’s or Ana’s.”

hehehe, agree with jane that mat4 is in a roll, lol ;)


mat4 Says:

@Ajet:

It is just the infallible sign that I am in deep depression.


Steve 27 Says:

This was one the most boring final in long years, also his final in Australia was bore too, I expect similar matches between those two like in Rome and this year semifinals, in the first major.


Danica Says:

Well, I don’t think that their shakes after important matches can be a real and true indication of how they feel about each other. Sure, Rafa can get frustrated and not overly enthusiastic after loosing his 5th or so final. What speaks to me more are their off court engagements (those we can see anyhow). So, when I read that Nole and Rafa played soccer for fun before the AO, that warmed my heart :). Murray is rumored to be the best man at Nole’s wedding (whenever that takes place :)) ) and in Serbia he is already called “Kum” (“Best men”) :), which is in our culture even bigger than being a part of the family.

I like Andy a lot, think that he is a modest and good natured guy but these kind of after match comments remind me to Roger’s to a certain degree.


mat4 Says:

@Danica:

The rumours about Nole’s wedding are premature. I could be a hoax, but I have read that they are spread by Jelena Ristic’s mother and aunt (conf. tennischick.com).

BTW, since Jelena travels with him full time, did you notice he didn’t play the Hopman Cup with Ana Ivanovitch?


Danica Says:

I don’t think that Novak didn’t play the Hopman Cup with Ana because of Jelena. That would be a speculation. He did play it last year with her while Jelena was finishing her Masters studies. And I don’t think there’s any bad blood between them. Ana and Novak know each other since very early childhood but now have somewhat different paths. Novak decided to take part in Aby Dabhi instead of Hopman which was, I think, a better preparation.
My parents know Jelena’s parents and from what I heard from them, Jelena’s seem to be humble and simple without any pretenses. I am pretty sure gossiping is not something they take part in.


mat4 Says:

Danica, Danica… :-)


Gregoire Gentil Says:

I’m surprised that Jeremy has not yet written an article on Oxygen! There is good raw materials to hit Caro…


sar Says:

Sam Gore said Jelena is studying for a law degree now. Didnt she get her masters in import/export?


sar Says:

Danica, Murray already addressed that topic and said he absolutely is not going to be the best man.


Wog boy Says:

Danica,
It is pretty obvious that Lendl is directing Andy to became oposite of what you just said about Andy. Andy’s statement, that he is not going to play football with Nole nor practice with him as he use to do, no more nice guy, I am pretty sure “somebody” sent me e-mail few months ago with Andy saying this, of course that was Lendl talking through Andy. I like Andy too, but if you need somebody to guide you when you are 25 (in May) and tell you how to behave means that you are not quite mature yet and you need someone stronger to guide you, that is not case with Federer or Novak I am not sure about Rafa and Don Vito Corleone relationship :), have to ask Brando:)
For Andy beeing “Kum” to Nole, that is completely untrue and Andy denied that he ever spoke with Nole about that or to put it in Serbian “neko je pustio buvu” or it was only “patka” :-)

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