By Shandel Richardson, Sun Sentinel –
KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — Novak Djokovic was already in select company on the tennis court.
Now, he is an even more exclusive group.
Djokovic defeated Andy Murray 6-1, 7-6 (4) on Sunday to win his second consecutive Sony Ericsson Open. It marked the third time Djokovic won the event, joining Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi as the only three-time winners. Sampras won six titles.
“Each one is different,” said Djokovic, who took home the $659,775 prize.
“Obviously the 2007 title was the first big title I won. Since then I started making some really big results in the big events and it was a big confidence boost for me. … Again, this year I didn’t drop a set, which is very impressive. I’m really happy with the way I played the last three matches against three very good opponents and top players”
Djokovic, the tournament’s top seed, improved to 20-2 this year. He was able to exact some revenge after losing to Murray when they met here in the 2009 final.
Murray also defeated Djokovic earlier this month in the semifinals in Dubai. It was Djokovic’s first defeat of the year.
That was hardly the case at Crandon Park Tennis Center in front of the sellout crowd of 14,568.
Djokovic cruised in the first set before needing to rally in the second. He trailed 4-3, but recovered to force a tiebreaker. Djokovic then jumped to a 5-2 lead on the way to closing things out.
“He doesn’t have many holes in his game,” Murray said of Djokovic.
“So therefore, when you play against him, it takes normally six, seven, eight shots, like 15, 16-shot rallies to win a lot of points. You have to be very patient, pick your moments to go for the right shots. That’s why he’s been so good the last 18 months to a year.”
Djokovic proved conditioned enough to win despite Murray holding somewhat of an advantage. Murray played two fewer matches because of walk-overs in the tournament. He earned a spot in the championship after second-seeded Rafael Nadal withdrew because of a knee injury before Friday’s semifinal.
Murray, who had a first-round bye, also moved on in the third round when Milos Ranoic pulled out with an ankle injury. The well-rested Murray last played Wednesday while Djokovic had to grind through a tough semifinal victory against Juan Moncao.
Murray said the inactivity had no effect on his play.
“I didn’t feel sluggish,” he said.
“Like I was saying, maybe it took a few games to get used to the pace. … I mean, there were a lot of close games in the first set. He played better on the big points in the first set. … If I was sluggish and I was only a couple of points away from winning the set, I’d say that’s a very good sign playing against the best player in the world. If it appeared that way, I didn’t feel like I was on the court.”
Djokovic showed no signs of fatigue.
He faced just one break point, in the fifth game, and lost only one service point in the tiebreaker. He went ahead to stay when Murray double-faulted to make it 3-2. The performance came despite the final lacking some star power. Most anticipated a rematch of last year’s championship when Djokovic defeated Nadal.
“I mean, scheduling was good for me,” Djokovic said. “I had a day off (Saturday). I had some time to get energized and get ready for the finals. I played a couple of day-session matches, night-session matches. So I thought the scheduling was really well. I felt physically really good.”
EVENT DROPS ERICSSON
The event announced Saturday it dropped Ericsson from the name of the tournament. Beginning next year it will be referred to as just the Sony Open.
It had been called the Sony Ericsson for the past six years.