Murray Defeats a Hindered Djokovic to Capture ATP Rome Masters Title
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Andy Murray, the world #2, improved to 1-2 on the season against world #1 Novak Djokovic, as he toppled the hobbled Serbian 6-3 6-3 in rather routine fashion. Djokovic faced break points early on, and was broken once midway through the set, failing to challenge further as Murray took it. In set 2 he gave Murray a tougher fight, the Brit had to save break points in both of his early service games before he broke midway through and went on to serve the set out without too much difficulty. Djokovic was clearly not at 100% this week, and it’s understandable that a player as talented and consistent as Murray would find a way to defeat him at less than his best. Djokovic still will be the favorite to win the French Open though, with Rafael Nadal, and Murray, along with Rome semifinalist Kei Nishikori serving as other possible champions.
Murray moved to 20-5 on the season and took his first Masters title of the year with straight set wins over Mikhail Kukushkin, Jeremy Chardy, David Goffin, and Lucas Pouille, as none of those players are elite and failed to give him much of a contest, even on clay. Pouille, a qualifier, broke through with wins over Ernests Gulbis and David Ferrer, before he got a walkover against Juan Monaco in the quarterfinals. Pouille got the seedline of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga when Tsonga withdrew. Monaco pulled out after upsetting Stan Wawrinka. The Frenchman certainly gained more fans in advance of Roland Garros 2016.
Djokovic dropped sets against both Thomaz Bellucci, and Kei Nishikori in the semifinals. He also vanquished Stephane Robert, and his rival Rafael Nadal, narrowly edging Nadal in two sets. Against Nishikori he had to win a third set tiebreak, and though he was injured, the Japanese #1 couldn’t take advantage, choking under the pressure of trying to beat the world #1, something he has failed to do since reaching the US Open final some time ago.
The Bryan brothers returned to the winners circle in doubles, capturing the title in Rome for the fourth time over the North American pairing of Jack Sock/Vasek Pospisil. This year’s French Open doubles action promising to be quite entertaining, and interesting with a host of teams in contention for the title, including the veteran American twins.