Novak Djokovic isn’t undefeated like he was at this point in 2011, but not everything changes. For the third time in his career, the world number 1 won the Masters in Miami, beating Andy Murray 6-1, 7-6, reminding everyone that despite his losses in Dubai and Indian Wells, he’s still the best player in the world right now.
It was Djokovic from the start. He did lose to Andy Murray in Dubai in a similar result (2-6, 5-7), and he lost another Semi Final to John Isner in California. For a moment, it seemed like that the dominance Djokovic presented at the Australian Open and all throughout 2011 wasn’t here to stay. It was starting to look like the year of Federer.
Well, Federer was stunned by Andy Roddick, who rarely gets a win over his long time rival. His celebration didn’t last long, losing to Monaco on the next round. Murray had two matches to skip over, including the Semi Final against Rafael Nadal who showed us once again that his knees are here to haunt him from time to time. Murray did struggle with Tipsarevic in the QF, but other than that, it was a breezy time in Key Biscayne.
Djokovic? No one quit on him, but he didn’t drop a set en route to his second final of 2012. In the final? Very similar to his match with Monaco in the semi final. A very dominant first set, where Djokovic pinpointed his shots with perfection, placed perfectly for every return, quickly turning defense into offense with powerful strokes. Murray looked like a man overcome by Djokovic’s ability, the heat, everything and everyone.
But the second set was a battle. Djokovic looked fatigued, breathing heavily as the points and rallies grew longer and longer. Murray wasn’t consistent, but Djokovic, like we said, couldn’t keep up at every point. From 5-4 down, Djokovic rose to the occasion, as always. Bringing in that extra gear he has and nobody else seems to in the big matches. Murray’s hands were shaking early in the Tiebreak. It didn’t end well for him.
This match was once again proof as to why the rankings are the way they are. Novak Djokovic has something extra that no one else has. Not Nadal, not Federer, and certainly not Murray, who seems to lose a step early on in finals, when he needs to bring his best, when he needs to do more than just push and wait for a mistake. He regained his wits and play in the second set, but it wasn’t enough.
And here comes the difference between these two players, who looked very similar in the years before the Djokovic breakthrough, in the Nadal-Federer world. Djokovic had too many ups and downs, fitness and mental problems. Murray didn’t have that something extra to perfect his game. He still doesn’t, while Djokovic leapfrogged him in every possible aspect.
At the current scenario and status in the rankings, there’s no chance Murray can win a grand slam title. Once again, in a big game, against one of the ‘bigs’, he proved he isn’t good enough. Djokovic? He’s back at the winner’s spot, somewhere he’s been used to find himself at the end of tournament over the past 15 months. With clay season lurking and Nadal’s health questionable once again, Djokovic has to be the favorite heading into Madrid and Rome.