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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
The is in your court.