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Murray sees off Djokovic to claim Italian Open title

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Andy Murray has boosted his credentials as a legitimate contender for the upcoming French Open, after the Brit defeated Novak Djokovic 6-3 6-3 for his first Rome title. Both players had to deal with the heavy conditions and light rain which left the world number one frustrated at times, but Murray was hardly affected as his patient approach and controlled aggression when needed saw him avenge his recent loss in the Madrid Open final to the Serbian, who this time was unable to produce his best form consistently.

In the opening set, Murray started strongly with a perfect hold of serve and fashioned early break points against the Djokovic serve, but the Brit was indecisive and therefore failed to capitalise on them. However, the Serbian initially struggled to find his range which enabled Murray to take the initiative when possible and extract valuable points. Murray’s persistence finally paid off as a series of crunching groundstrokes sealed the crucial breakthrough, which he consolidated for a 4-1 lead. Djokovic’s level slightly improved as he held his remaining service games to reduce the deficit, but the Brit’s impressive blend of aggression and patience was simply too much for his opponent. One break was enough for Murray, as he comfortably closed out the set with a delicate drop shot to take a deserved lead.

As the second set unfolded, the world number one emphatically held his opening service game and started to exert early pressurise on his opponent.  However, Murray upped the aggression when he needed to save a break point, before a series of immaculate serves ensured the scoreline would be level at 1-1. Even though Djokovic continued to express his frustration over the conditions of the court, he still had further opportunities to break again, but the Brit maintained his strong serving display at the crucial moments to stave off the challenge once more.  Murray then ruthlessly punished the Serbian in the following game, clinching the vital break with an easy volley following a blistering backhand return. The Brit confidently consolidated his advantage to lead 4-2, taking complete control of proceedings and increase the pressure on his opponent. Serving to stay in the match at 5-3 down, the world number one’s errant play gifted the Brit match points, and Murray sealed the victory in spectacular style with a backhand passing shot winner from such a deep position in the court.

With this win on his birthday, Murray will move back to second in the updated world rankings, having capped off a very strong run on the clay courts which included reaching the semi-finals in Monte Carlo, a finalist appearance last week in Madrid and winning the Italian Open title.

ATP Italian Open Novak Djokovic Rome

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