The final was a tournament director’s dream with the world number one ranked player facing off against the world number two player. On a packed centre court the anticipation for this match was high. In the end it was the underdog (could you even call Murray that?) who prevailed, but who was going to win was not obvious until the end. For over two years which included 8 head-to-head confrontations Novak Djokovic had bested his friend Andy Murray.
It was a very hot day in Montreal with little wind which led to the on court temperature reaching 50 degrees Celsius. It was going to be a war of attrition with whoever could deal with the temperature best probably triumphing. You expect a battle when these two play though the added factor of someone breaking down made things a little different. Coming into the game Djokovic had been on court for 5 ½ hours more than Murray. Both had participated in the doubles tournament with Djokovic and his partner making it all the way to the semis.
To begin the set both men held their serves. Then things began to become interesting. It took a marathon game for Murray to hold serve for a 2-1 game. The long game was followed by another long game in which Murray broke Djokovic for a 3-1 lead. He followed that up with an easy hold for 4-1. In the 7th game Djokovic managed a break of his own bringing the game back on serve, 4-3 Murray. Djokovic held service to knot the game up 4-4. Another long game followed with Murray finally holding for 5-4. They had already been on court one hour and still the first set was not decided. On Djokovic’s serve Murray earned two break/set points. A big first serve from the Serb saved one and then he shanked a backhand into the net to allow Murray to escape with a 6-4 victory.
What held true for the entire match was that each man did earn plenty of break opportunities off of each other’s serves, but neither capitalized too often. Both do play very good defensive tennis so are capable of fighting off break opportunities. What also did not vary throughout the match were the changes of momentum from one player to the other. It was hard to get a firm grip on who was controlling the match because it changed so often. Momentum was so fleeting it also changed within games.
A good sign for fans of Murray was that in 2015 he is 48-0 when he wins the 1st set. Maybe to switch up the mojo, to start the 2nd set Djokovic came out with a hat on to deal with the heat. It seemed to work as he won the first 8 points of the 2nd set. That meant that Djokovic broke Murray in the 1st game and held his own serve for 2-0 Djokovic. Murray seemed to have slowed down as his feet were not moving as quickly as in the 1st set. Both men then held their next serves for 3-1 Djokovic. Murray was looking more tired than Djokovic despite the fact he was up a set. The Brit is known for looking injured/crabby/worn out then pulling out victories so I’m sure that Djokovic was not falling for his possum act. As almost expected Murray held service easily then broke Djokovic to bring the set back on serve 3-3. To get in on the festivities Djokovic then proceeded to break Murray on his next service game to regain his lead, 4-3. The men then traded holds for 5-4 Djokovic. Djokovic then served to even up at one set each. A big first serve won him the 2nd set, 6-4.
Now it was really a question of who would have more in the tank in the heat in Montreal? Between the 2nd and 3rd sets the two men retreated to the dressing room to change into fresh clothes. Murray seemed to come out refreshed holding serve and then breaking Djokovic for 2-0 Murray. It seemed like since Murray was tired he decided to end rallies early and so take more chances. He was going for shots. Risk/reward was working out for the Brit. During the fifth game of the set nerves were fraying. At least on Murray’s side. The ump issued him an unsportsmanlike conduct warning for hitting the television camera. He did seem irritable talking a lot to himself and towards his box between points. In the end Murray was able to compose himself enough to hold his serve after 10 deuces for 4-1 Murray. It was a big psychological boost for Murray to hold after a game that lasted almost 18 minutes. Again both men traded service holds for 5-2 Murray. Djokovic was serving to stay in the game and it took 3 deuces to accomplish this. Now Murray was trying to win the match after wasting 4 previous match points. He does it for 6-2 Murray.
After a hard fought 3 hours in the sun, this was Murray’s third Rogers Cup and 35th title of his career. Every game was a battle – both mental and physical. Despite the score this was a close match. A point here or there was all that separated the two. Murray certainly will gain plenty of confidence as a result of the victory. He now knows he can do it. It is a good time as they are not far away from the final Grand Slam, the U.S. Open. This was Djokovic’s first loss in a Masters Series so far this year.