Murray stuns Djokovic in Dubai

Briton avenges Australian Open defeat by reaching the final of the Dubai Championships with a 6-2, 7-5 victory.

Andy Murray
The loss marks the end of a ten-match winning streak this season for the Serbian [EPA]

Andy Murray, the triple Grand Slam finalist from Scotland, achieved a measure of revenge over Novak Djokovic, the triple Grand Slam titleholder from Serbia, when he ended Djokovic’s three-year winning sequence in the Dubai Open on Friday.

Murray, who was narrowly beaten in a thriller of almost five hours by Djokovic in the semi-finals of last month’s Australian Open, overcame his great rival 6-2, 7-5 in another semi-final.

It was an unpredictable match, with two or three surprising twists and turns, and with Djokovic attacking the net far more than usual, but Murray the better server and more consistent player.

“It’s obviously great any time you beat the world number one,” Murray said.

“I just tried to do some of the same things I did in Australia.

“I was very close there against one of the greatest players ever, and today I did what I needed to – even though it nearly got away from me at the end.”

Costly errors

He was helped when after a quarter of an hour Djokovic, who started boldly, suddenly and unexpectedly faltered.

He won the first ten points behind his serve, and had just delivered two hurtling aces down the middle, when four relatively unforced errors poured from the champion’s racket.

They were all ground-stroking flaws, in the face of steady but not time-denying drives from Murray, who found himself with a psychologically valuable break of serve for 4-2.

It helped confirm the feeling that the Scot has recovered much better from his Melbourne disappointment this year than the previous two years, and he capitalised eagerly.

He consolidated to 5-2 with a good recovery from 15-40 on his serve – one rally with a net attack, the other with baseline containment – and then broke Djokovic again.

This time two of the points came of Murray’s own making. A backhand topspin lurched wickedly at the in-rushing Djokovic’s feet to get Murray to love-30, and then two blistering cross-court backhand drives earned him the set.

It was greeted with huge roars from the large number of British expatriates in the 5,000 crowd, and Murray’s continued progress continued to be greeted enthusiastically.

Another indifferent service game from Djokovic at the start of the second set enabled Murray to continue building the momentum.

This time, after Murray had consolidated the break to reach 3-0, Djokovic responded by increasing the ratio of his net attacks but was soon 2-5 down. It was then that the match took two unpredictable final twists.


Murray, despite having served well, was now unable to serve out for the match at 5-3 – much as he was against Djokovic in Rome in May last year. But then at 5-6 Djokovic was unable to take advantage of the reprieve.

Three forehand errors and one tremendous defensive rally by Murray gained the Scot another break and his first victory over Djokovic in a completed match for nearly three years. That was when he beat his career-long friend in the Miami final.

And so Djokovic, the Laureus World sportsman of the Year and the recipient of Serbia’s highest civil award, fell to defeat in his first tournament since receiving these and other honours.

It left an impression that Murray, who had had an unbroken two-week stint of training in Miami may have had a better preparation for this tournament, perhaps helping him achieve a deeper focus.

Djokovic said he had simply lost to the better player on the day.

“But generally I feel good, physically, mentally, you know. It’s just the start of the season. You know, there are some 1000 events (Indian Wells and Miami) coming up which are really important, and I need to get ready.”

Asked about off court distractions Djokovic added: “You know, I been having a lot off court activities since I became number one, but I have a team of people that controls it well.

“Obviously there is a lot of temptations and a lot of things that you can enjoy. But it’s normal. You know, you can’t on one hand just be 100% of your life in the tennis. You know, you are young. You have to enjoy life. You have to experience some other things, you know.” 

Source: AFP

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