ATP Montréal Final Review Five Things Andy Murray Did Right Vs Djokovic


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Andy Murray marked his return to the ATP no.2 spot by beating world no.1 Novak Djokovic 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in the ATP 1000 Montreal final in nearly three hours. The Tennis Review looks at what Murray did right to put an end to a run of eight straight defeats to his long-time rival.

He showed Courage.

In big matches, Murray has been criticized for not having the courage in big moments. He can’t be faulted in this final though.

The Scot was under huge pressure to get a first win over Djokovic after suffering eight defeats in a row. Even when Murray led 3-1 in the third set, there was always the danger the world no.1 would pull off one of his famous comebacks as he pushed Murray all the way in an epic game closing in on 20 minutes.

Murray did not shrink away from the challenge though, and as a result of his continuing to take risks on his serve and ground game, he managed to pull off his biggest victory since winning the Wimbledon ’13 trophy.

Executed an aggressive game strategy.

Murray now leads Djokovic 5-1 in the US Open Series. The Scot is, at heart, a defensive counterpuncher who tracks down balls, feeds off his opponent’s pace and takes time away from his opponent.

That style works better on fast courts than Djokovic’s aggressive baseline game, which is more suited to medium slow courts found in Melbourne, Miami and Indian Wells.

Murray did not rely on his defensive counterpunching though. Murray also employed, and crucially sustained, creating opportunities and coming forward when they arose, thus saving himself a lot of energy, and not allowing Djokoivic to play his favorite game- dictating from the baseline.

Got off to a great start in the the third.

Murray lost the last set in the Melbourne final 6-0, and the third set in Miami and the fifth set in Paris 6-1. If he had let Djokoivic grab the momentum after winning the second set, the score line of this match might have been similar.

Kept his First Serve Percentage high

Instead of going away in the third set, Murray held serve to open it, and then got the break. But being a break up against Djokovic, the best returner in the game, in the final set is not enough of a cushion,  as Murray found out in the first set when he let a break lead slip. This time though Murray held, and he held again at 3-1 with Djokovic threatening to break, and, over the course of the third set, saved nine break points against his serve.

For a player much criticised for having a weak second serve, keeping his first serve percentage high was crucial in the third set and Murray performed in that category better than his supporters could have hoped under such intense pressure with a first serve percentage of 70% compared to Djokovic’s 55.

Kept his cool.

The performance was in no way a shining example of keeping cool under pressure – there was the usual barking at himself and his box – but things never boiled over into the kind of self-destructive behavior that has contributed to big defeats throughout his career.

There were times when it could have, such as when the umpire gave him a code violation in the third set for hitting a camera with his racket. Murray questioned it, laughed it off, and then answered with a service winner. That kind of reaction to things not going his way kept him positive and was a crucial factor, if not the most crucial, in getting the most positive of results.

Commentary by Christian Deverille.

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Christian Deverille

Christian Deverille is a tennis writer with a diploma in Freelance Sports Writing from the London School of Journalism. He loves all things tennis, most of all the Federer and del Potro forehands.
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