Rogers Cup 2015: Murray halts Djokovic run to win Montreal title

British No1 Andy Murray beats world No1 Novak Djokovic for the first time eight attempts to win Rogers Cup

It was first time that the two top seeds had met in the Rogers Cup final in over a decade, but there was no doubting that Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray deserved their place in the Montreal sun on final Sunday.

Even the rankings concurred: Murray rose from No3 to No2 with his run to this showdown, and he stood level with Djokovic on match-wins this year.

Both had now qualified for the World Tour finals, both had won this title before—three times for Djokovic and two for Murray. And they had met in six previous Masters finals, winning three apiece.

Even so, this rivalry that dated back to junior days had opened up clear water between the two men born within a fortnight of each other.

This year, Djokovic had put together an unparalleled season, winning all four of the Masters tournaments he had entered and was on an unbroken Masters run since winning in Paris last autumn. Not only that, he had reached the finals of all three Majors this year, winning in Australia and at Wimbledon, and was now contesting a career-best ninth consecutive final that dated back to that Australian victory in January.

But the killer blow was that Djokovic arrived in Canada with a 19-8 head-to-head advantage over Murray, including their last eight meetings, four of them in 2015. Not since the 2013 Wimbledon final had Murray come out on top—though soon afterwards, the Briton left the tour to undergo back surgery and slipped down the rankings to No10 a year ago. Now, though, he had finally begun to show the form that had won him 10 Masters titles before, including Madrid this year.

Their last meeting, in the semis of the French Open was as close as could be, a five-setter of swinging fortunes—and evidence of how Murray had closed the gap on his old rival since last year’s struggles.

And this first meeting since, on a surface that has yielded some of Murray’s best wins—six of his Masters titles have been won on North American hard courts—was the tightest of contests from the very start of what would take a full three hours to play out.

Murray’s tactics were clearly to be aggressive at every opportunity, and he earned an early reward with a break in the fourth game, though Djokovic fought off five break points before conceding.

Murray had another chance to break, but Djokovic held him off and broke back, and after an intense hour of repeated deuce games, they were all square at 4-4. However, Murray made one more decisive and timely break for the first set, 6-4.

Djokovic hit back strongly in the second, winning the first two games without dropping a point, and although Murray broke back to level at 3-3, Djokovic mirrored the first set, breaking to level the match, 6-4.

Djokovic boasted an important statistic for this stage of the match, a streak of 24 consecutive deciding-set wins at Masters level. But this time, Murray proved too hard a nut to crack and took control of the third set for a 3-0 lead.

But Djokovic again dug deep through a gripping 16-minute fifth game of multiple deuces. Murray saved six break points to hold for 4-1 and brought up his first match points on Djokovic’s serve at 5-2.

The Serb called on the crowd for support as he withstood the pressure, and they responded. In the blink of an eye, he had Murray at 15-40, and with no challenges remaining, the Briton was on dangerous ground. But he continued to play boldly and was rewarded. He held for set and match, 6-3, and lifted his arms aloft in triumph.

Murray afterwards joked with the crowd that he could not talk as many languages as Djokovic: “He puts me to shame. He’s almost as good at languages as he is at tennis!”

But the Briton’s lack of French seemed not to bother the Montreal fans a jot, especially when he played his trump card. After thanking Jonas Bjorkman and the rest of his team, he talked of coach Amelie Mauresmo.

“She had a baby boy this morning… so she may not have stayed up to watch this! But this one’s for you.”

It was a nice moment: He and Mauresmo have become a close and mutually-supportive partnership—and by this time next year will both be parents.

So everything seems right in the Murray world—and surely this confidence-boosting win augurs great things ahead of the Major that saw Murray’s first Grand Slam victory.

Alan Shearer (Photo: BBC Sport / Screengrab)
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