In Madrid 2016, world no. 1 Novak Djokovic defeated the defending champion Andy Murray 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 to lift the first crown in the Spanish capital in five years. It was the 64th ATP title for Novak, moving him neck and neck with Bjorn Borg and Pete Sampras and the record-breaking 29th Masters 1000 crown, leaving Rafael Nadal on 28.
It was the fourth clash between Novak and Andy on clay and the fourth triumph for the Serb who had won 12 of the last 13 encounters against world no. 2 for complete domination over the Briton. Like against Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori, Novak had some problems in the closing stages of the encounter but he still did enough to seal the deal and secure the title, fending off seven break chances in the final game to grab the 15th straight victory over the rivals from the top-10, extending his Masters 1000 dominance after conquering ten of the last 14 events!
Murray forced Djokovic to stay on the court for two hours and six minutes and it was a high-intense battle between superb defenders. Fast Madrid clay allowed them to be aggressive and to go for the shots, with more than half of the rallies finished with no more than four strokes.
No one had the advantage in them (41-40 for Novak) but the Serb prevailed 46-29 in the more extended exchanges to forge the win. They also had the same percentage on their first serve, with Novak who used it slightly better than his rival, despite ten aces from Murray.
The main problem for the Briton, as always against Novak, was his second serve that Djokovic pushed to the limits with his excellent return. Murray managed to win just seven out of 22 points after missing the first, which made a massive difference.
Novak finished the encounter with 25 winners and unforced errors each while Andy fired 22 winners but also 33 mistakes, trying to penetrate Djokovic and make him running over the baseline. Mainly thanks to that last game of the match, Murray created ten break opportunities, converting only two of those and suffering four breaks from six chances offered to Djokovic, another deciding factor in world no.
1's win. Instead of measuring the capabilities in the opening games, Novak made the best start, playing out of this world tennis in the first set to win it 6-2 in just half an hour! He grabbed an early lead with a break in the first game after an excellent volley and never looked back, leaving the powerless Murray miles behind.
Djokovic confirmed the break with a love service game and would lose only three points on serve in the opener, offering no chances on the return to Andy to control the scoreboard. Novak earned another break in game five with an excellent forehand winner, sealing the set in the next game and hoping for more of the same in the rest of the clash.
The Serb was flying over the court, leaving Murray with no groundstrokes winner in the first part of the match after sending deep balls that were equally placed on both sides of the courts to spray the rival all over the baseline.
Andy couldn't find the pattern to take the longer rallies, scoring only three points when the exchange would reach five strokes or more. One more fact could trouble Murray, never winning match versus Novak after losing the first set, trailing 18-0 in that department!
In the second set, Murray raised his game and started to play better on the return while keeping his serve safe, not letting Novak any break chance. After a tough third game when he held after deuce, Murray went on to break Djokovic out of nowhere for the first time following a costly double fault from world no.
1. Andy was now 3-1 in front, keeping the advantage until the end of the set, as both players had five commanding holds after that. Andy closed the set with a classy drop shot, gathering momentum and taking pressure off his back ahead of the decider.
He had nine winners and eight unforced errors while Novak found five winners and 11 mistakes, having to work harder in the decider if he wanted the title. Djokovic was still the clear favorite, though, knowing how good he is in tight situations and being able to play at a higher level almost every time he needs it.
He broke Murray in the second game following an amazing 23-shot rally, appearing in the driving seat again. Nonetheless, Andy stayed focused and found the way to break back immediately after another double fault from Djokovic that brought him to the positive side of the scoreboard!
The Serb bounced back immediately, opening a 3-2 advantage with a love service game before breaking Andy in the next game, which would prove to be the pivotal moment of the encounter. Djokovic was soon 5-2 in front and had the first match point in game eight on Murray's serve.
Andy responded well, saving it with an ace before he held to stay in touch, forcing Novak to serve for the title. The first 25 games of the match went on pretty quickly, with deuces in only three of those, but the last one came down to the wire as by far the most extending and interesting.
Murray had no less than seven break chances to get back into set completely but Novak somehow fended them off, converting his third match point when Murray sent the ball into the net to celebrate the record-breaking Masters 1000 crown.
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