MIAMI, April 5 – Britain's Andy Murray beat Serbia's Novak Djokovic 6-2, 7-5 on Sunday to win the Miami Masters and clinch his third title of the year.
The world number four wrapped up victory after reeling off the last five games of the second set having seen Djokovic, the world number three, throw away his chance to level the final.
The Serbian, the champion here in 2007, had served for the second set leading 5-3, but a fifth double fault disrupted his fightback and his game quickly fell apart.
Murray, the first three-time winner on the ATP Tour in 2009, also made further inroads on Djokovic’s world number three ranking with only 170 points now separating them.
The 21-year-old Scot dominated Djokovic for most of the match as the Serbian fell prey to a total of 43 unforced errors.
Djokovic called for the trainer early in the second set and Murray’s level subsequently dipped slightly, although the Scot said it wasn’t necessarily due to any distraction.
"If you look at the next game or so, he started rushing me," Murray said. "He started coming forward more, and he hadn’t been doing that.
"He went for broke a little bit and tried to shorten the points. He hit the ball well. I struggled a little bit, but it wasn’t just because of the timeout he took."
Djokovic broke Murray twice to win four games in a row, then the Scot won a marathon game to hold for 2-4 and regained the momentum.
Overall Murray kept Djokovic off-balance with his variety of pace and direction and thwarted his attempts to come to the net with precise passing.
Murray’s day included two second-serve aces, including one 76 mile per hour ace that flummoxed Djokovic.
"The majority of players now play so well from the baseline and both sides, that if you can use some slice and drop shots, some high balls and stuff, it just takes them out of their comfort zone," Murray said.
"It’s my way of dictating how the match is getting played. A lot of people might not necessarily think my game looks the most aggressive or offensive, but very few times will I not have the points played how I like them to be played."
Murray said he also believed he had benefitted from his improved fitness. He has an apartment in the area and did pre-season fitness training here.
"I think mentally it makes a difference," he said.
"Even if you’re struggling, you know your opponent is going to be feeling the same. Whereas before, sometimes you could get tired and look over at the other side and the opponent seems fine.
"A match like today – it was hot out there. A few long rallies and I would be a little bit out of breath. I could look down the court and see him struggling, as well."
Murray, the first British finalist here for 25 years, took victory when Djokovic went long with a lame volley after an hour and 42 minutes on court.
The 21-year-old Scotsman, who had raced through the first set with two breaks taking him to 4-0 lead, has now won three Masters titles. He was the champion in Cincinnati and Madrid in 2008.
"I think any time you win a tournament, obviously it gives you confidence," said Murray, who had also reached the final of the Masters event at Indian Wells in March.
"The Masters Series have always been, after the Slams, tough tournaments to win."