Murray Finally Defeats Djokovic to Win Montreal Title

Well, it’s been a long time coming. But fortunately for Djokovic it didn’t happen at a slam. Murray already came close at the French Open and if he kept up that kind of form it was almost inevitable that he would eventually get a victory over his big rival. Murray is too good to lose nine consecutive times to Djokovic, but that didn’t mean in any way that Djokovic would just roll over for him to get that elusive win.

  • Opening Set

It was clear from the start what Murray’s strategy was, which was to be as aggressive as possible. It has worked in the fourth and fifth sets at the French Open, but he didn’t have enough self-belief to follow through yet. This time Murray won the first set which made all the difference. He got the early break and raced to a 4-1 lead. He then had Djokovic at 15-40 in the following game as well, but Djokovic fought back in his usual way and leveled at 4-4.

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Murray held serve for 5-4 and broke Djokovic to win the opening set after Djokovic mishit that ever reliable backhand into the net.

  • Second Set

As expected Djokovic mounted a comeback and he wasted no time in doing so as he broke Murray to love in his opening service game with a lethal backhand return winner that clipped the line by the smallest of margins. At 2-3 Murray returned the favor as he broke back with a lethal backhand return winner of his own. 3-3. Clearly Murray was not showing any signs of backing off. He was still stepping into the court and ripping groundstrokes.

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But Djokovic was doing some ripping groundstrokes of his own and broke serve again after making one of those great defensive returns which forced Murray into error. 4-3. This time Djokovic would not lose his advantage again as he served out the set to 15 at 5-4.

  • The Decider

So it came down to one set for who would win another big title which by the way neither Federer nor Nadal has been able to do this year. Wow! I think there may have been a break point for Djokovic in the opening game, but crucially Murray held serve. He didn’t want there to be a big momentum swing. To the contrary, he was the one who seized the momentum in the next game by breaking the Djokovic serve after more offensive tennis.

This Murray meant business and soon he was in a very handy position at 3-0 in the deciding set. The Djokosmash was also on full display again in this match. Djokovic made some pathetic net plays the way he did against Gulbis and hit some more pathetic smashes. This actually makes me think he was not at his best because this was the old Djokovic net game which had improved so much of late. Anyway, the smash Djokovic missed at 0-3 and 0-0 was a piss poor.

Importantly though he did somehow manage to hold on to his serve and stay in the match. It did strike me that he was looking tired though which is not surprising given that match with Gulbis and the fact that he played doubles this week and made semi-finals. I think the tiredness combined with the fact that he seemed to be struggling with an elbow injury we can safely say that was the wrong decision. But is always easy to say these things in hindsight.

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Djokovic may have felt some fatigue at this point in the match, but he was far from throwing in the towel. One of the features of this match was the length of some of the games they played and the length of the match overall which was exactly three hours. The game at 3-1 took a staggering 15 minutes and involved 10 deuces and 6 break points. That was a massive game which decided the outcome of the match as far as I’m concerned.

It was an absolutely titanic struggle and Murray showed immense perseverance and tenacity to hold for 4-1. As far as I was concerned Murray was going to win after he won that game, which of course he did. But by no means did Djokovic just hand it to him. He still showed extraordinary fight. In fact, he came back from at least one match point down at 2-5 to make Murray serve it out at 5-3. And in that game he still made life hell for Murray.

He got Murray to 15-40 on his serve after a dramatic point he stole from Murray at 15-30. Now he only had to win one of the next two points and my mind would change as to who was the favorite to win the match. But to Murray’s massive credit he held on with some immense serving and finally got that elusive win over Djokovic. What started out as a boring match caught fire about half way through the second set and turned out to be a classic with some incredible rallies and drama.

  • Concluding Thoughts

First of all congrats to Murray for a tremendous match and coming back from eight straight losses to finally defeat Djokovic. It has been a long and inspirational road back to his best. Apparently doctors advised him not to get back surgery back in 2013 because there was no guarantee that it was even going to work and that it could even make things worse for him. So all credit to him for fighting back and winning another big title.

He hasn’t won another slam yet, but he may just do so in New York. But before I get to that I thought this was a great way for Murray to shake off that tough loss at Wimbledon to Federer. I think that was tough because he was actually playing well, but Federer was just playing ridiculously well. That was as good as Federer can play and why I said Djokovic’s level in the final was the highest level I have ever seen. With this victory, Murray also surges ahead of Federer in the rankings.

That is big because he now has a great shot at being the second seed for the US Open. Federer now probably has to win Cincy to overtake Murray before the US Open again, and with a draw of Nadal/Murray/Djokovic that will be very difficult. But it’s not impossible which makes Cincy even more interesting than it already is. Another reason that it is interesting is that Djokovic will be trying to complete the career Masters.

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He seems to be struggling with an elbow, but I don’t think it is serious. He has a couple of rest days now where he can get it treated and I think he will be fine for Cincy. But he shouldn’t risk the US Open. If it is really a problem he should just withdraw. I’m glad he is playing anyway and with Fedalray all in one half again he surely has a good shot at the title. He has Stan in his quarter, but I’m not sure Stan is very comfortable on the speedy Cincy courts.

I don’t think the Montreal final loss is that big a deal to Djokovic. Clearly Cincy would be more valuable to him. He is still the favorite for the US Open, but Murray is now a huge threat. I have a feeling this may be Murray’s time again. He has done the hard work and is playing the best tennis of his life because at long last he is being more aggressive. That has always been the key for him, but it took many a tough loss for it to get through his stubborn head.

Djokovic is still probably the favorite over five sets, but I saw a stat today that Murray is now 5-1 against Djokovic in the US Open series. So as far as the US Open goes that makes Murray the favorite. The only match that Djokovic won was last year’s US Open quarterfinal when Murray wasn’t nearly the player he is now. And so what if Djokovic doesn’t win the US Open? He already had a terrific year no matter what happens from here on.

  • Another Big Statement from Djokoray

Although Djokovic has dominated this year Murray has made a big statement of his own now with a second Masters and becoming the new world #2. To state it differently, he made a big statement for the Djokoray era. With Nadal failing to win the French and Federer failing to win Wimby the Fedal era seems well and truly over now. But like I said before, Djokovic alone is probably not enough to hold off Fedal. Murray has to weigh in, which he just did.

That Wimbledon loss to Federer was still a telling blow for Fedal, but then of course Djokovic made relatively short work of Federer in the final. With this title for Murray, he just makes it seem like the Fedal era is fading even faster. He did something which Federer couldn’t do in Indian Wells or Rome. He actually defeated Djokovic in a big tournament which only one other guy has been able to do this year. If Federer wants to stop the rot he now has to do no less than win Cincy.

That is probably the only way he gets the second seed for New York because you’d expect Murray to make semis at least. If he fails to get the second seed for New York it becomes very possible that he has to beat Murray and Djokovic to win the title which is nearly impossible for him at this point. It doesn’t help Fedal’s cause that they have been drawn in the same quarter in Cincy either. Nadal is desperately trying to find some form of his own and may even defeat Federer if they meet.

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It looks like Djokoray is set to dominate tennis for the next few years, and if anyone was wondering who would challenge Djokovic then they very quickly found their answer yesterday. Murray is a definite threat to Djokovic when he plays aggressive tennis. Sure Djokovic still leads the head-to-head 19-9, but it is just 3-2 in slams. That is considerably closer than the one-sided 9-2 record of Fedal in slams and I definitely expect Murray to keep troubling Djokovic in slams.

Well, I can probably write ten more pages but I have to cut it short at some point. I thoroughly enjoyed Montreal and we are truly in a golden era. Cincy will be even more interesting and then it’s only a week before the big one in New York. By the way, Thiem already lost to Klizan in Cincy after being up 4-1 in the deciding set, which means he doesn’t gain any points from last year. A bit disappointing but he is still in the top 20.

I’ll be back soon with some news from Cincy. Really looking forward to this one!

 

Edit: Djokovic leads Murray 6-2 in slams not 3-2(that is in slams finals). So actually Djokovic does own Murray. Been arguing too much with Matt of late :))

 

  • Highlights

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luSG1z6mWAI

The is in your court.

Posted in Canada, Masters 1000.

18 Comments

  1. Thanks for the write-up Ruan! I missed most of the match (due to the time difference) but am very happy for Andy, he deserved this win :-) Novak was not at his absolute best throughout the week, which is understandable – it’s difficult to keep up high level of play for an entire year (or longer). Murray’s key to victory was undoubtedly his aggression, and it would be great if he could build on that as we head into next month’s US Open. I believe Federer can get No. 2 back before the US Open if he defends Cincinnati, but I think from his perspective (and Murray’s) the rankings look fine as they are.
    Just saw that Klizan beat Thiem in Cincy btw. Troicki was pathetic against Fish – real shame.
    Did you hear about the Harrison-Kokkinakis spat during their opening round match?

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    No worries Krish. Yes, I suppose in the end it doesn’t matter all that much who is seeded 2nd for the USO, but I think it is also a mental thing. And yes of course I knew about the Harrison-Kokkinakis spat. See the comment section of my last post for the discussion. Aren’t you the big Murray fan, or is it someone else?

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    Krish Reply:

    Yes, that would be me – fan of Murray, Federer and Djokovic from the “old guard”. I also like watching Nishikori from the current generation. I haven’t found anyone unique or special among the younger 17-21 year olds, but there is this 15-year old kid who looks awesome (Felix Auger Aliassime) – solid strokes, but seems a little injury prone unfortunately.

    [Reply]

  2. Good write-up, Ru-an. Great tournament. The win makes the HC that much more interesting. Djokovic, I suspect, is pleased with last week’s results. Murray earned it.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks, Matt. You are right. I don’t think this will hurt Djokovic too much. But it does complicate things for him. The USO is big for him if he wants to make a serious run at the GOAT debate and if Murray keeps playing like this he can easily defeat Djokovic at the USO. Good post from you as well. Here it is if anyone wants to check it out:

    https://mcshowblog.wordpress.com/2015/08/17/2015-rogers-cup-the-takeaways/

    You make good points about Djokovic looking ahead. He didn’t look in prime form in Montreal yet. Neither against Gulbis nor against Murray. Nor should he have. He should build up steadily to the USO and this loss could have been a blessing. Now he can focus on only singles in Cincy and go for that elusive title, which would be ideal just before NY. He is also in a great position with Fedalray on the opposite half of his draw. They can battle it out and he can pick up the pieces the way he did at Wimby. Lol.

    On a serious note, he seems very intelligent about these things, like he’s always got an ace up his sleeve. Murray may have peaked at the wrong time already while Djoker is biding his time for the USO. He wants to win that title more than anything and he’s gonna pull out every stop to make it happen.

    [Reply]

  3. That’s exactly how I see it. We have to be patient. Ha. At least we have good/great tennis to keep us distracted!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Exactly. We should just stay in the moment and enjoy it. No need to worry about what is up ahead. If there was any title Djokovic could afford to lose it was Montreal. The important thing is that he made it incredibly hard for Murray to win and made him expend a lot of mental and physical energy. And he will do the same in Cincy in the battle with Federer for #2. When the USO comes around Djokovic will be peaking and Murray may be drained. Ideally Djokovic wants Murray to make the final in Cincy where he can knock him off handily due to tiredness. Then go to NY as the favorite.

    [Reply]

  4. I wonder how bad the arm is. Pulling out of Cincy has to be considered if he’s having any issues with it still, or could during this week’s play. He had a great week in Montreal, Murray needing everything to beat him, not being 100%. Get healthy. If that crops up in NYC, unforgivable unless it’s that bad and even “rest” won’t heal it in time.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Probably not serious at all, given how hard he made things for Murray. He said he didn’t serve well enough in the second half of the match, but I think it was more due to how well Murray served. Probably just saying it to get a mental edge. He plays a lot of mind games. Smart guy.

    [Reply]

  5. I appreciate the gamesmanship. But I also believe his Cincy and USO records are not coincidence. He wears down late in the season; at least that’s what those records suggest. Early season (5 AO) different story. Just something to watch moving forward.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I don’t think so. He’s got a great record in Asia and indoors. Cincy it’s the courts and USO likely the crowd.

    [Reply]

    Matt Reply:

    Good point. I guess I’m acting like a nervous parent. Lol.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Not saying it can’t happen. Djoker could already be feeling the strain after a very successful season. But historically it hasn’t happened.

    [Reply]

    Matt Reply:

    As you know, another sign that this is a new Djokovic. Survive and advance and find that form. Major (pun intended) motivation has to be rising given the chance at a first Cincy and momentum for NYC.

    [Reply]

  6. Ru-an, are you going to do a post on Cincinnati?

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes, Steve I am. After the QF.

    [Reply]

    steve Reply:

    Thanks, looking forward to it.

    What’s the deal with Gasquet? It’s like he has to apologize to his opponent for winning the first set by completely throwing away the second.

    [Reply]

  7. I can’t find your latest post-cincinatti qf roundup.
    I am able to view it from my mail,but not able to access it through the website
    Please look into it

    [Reply]

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