Andy Murray shrugged off early nerves to claim his first title of the year with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Fernando Verdasco in the final of the Dubai Championships
Andy Murray shrugged off early nerves to claim his first title of the year with a straight-sets victory over Fernando Verdasco in the final of the Dubai Duty Free Championships. The world No1, a runner-up in 2012, looked to have left his game in the locker room when he was broken twice at the start of the match, but a strong recovery sealed a 6-3 6-2 win over the Spaniard.
Victory takes Murrays head-to-head record against Verdasco to 13-1.
Errors littered the opening few games as the players struggled to hold their serve. Two double faults and a forehand into the net from Murray gifted Verdasco an early break but the Scot hit back immediately by taking the first of three break points when his opponent also found the net with a weak shot.
Murrays serve continued to cause concern in game three and another double fault presented two more break points to Verdasco. The Spaniard took advantage when Murray pushed a forehand wide before overturning a 0-30 deficit in his own service game to go 3-1 up.
The recovery began when Murray finally held serve in game five, although not without a struggle, and the scores were levelled when Murray unleashed a winning cross-court backhand in the next game for another break.
Murray made it three games in a row and then four, hitting back from 0-40 down on the Verdasco serve to open up a 5-3 lead and leave himself serving for the set.
He did so successfully and continued to put Verdasco to the sword in the second set, securing a break of serve in the third game with another unreturnable forehand.
Murray was very much in his stride with his service game also on the rise. Although Verdasco managed to claw his way out of trouble to hold his next service game it seemed only a matter of when, not if, the top seed would seal the win.
The answer came in the seventh game when, despite saving several break points, another unforced error from Verdasco gifted Murray a 5-2 advantage and the chance to serve out for the title.
Murray quickly wrapped things up, clinching the match with a powerful serve to which Verdasco could find no response.
Murray said: Its always nice to win any tournament but especially ones you havent won before, so Im very happy to do it here for the first time. Its been a good start to the year. I played a good match.
Its been quite a few late finishes this week and the last couple of matches I didnt start as well as Id like. The conditions have been a difficult with some stopping and starting. But once I got going I was moving well and I finished strong.
The ATP Tour moves to USA next week, for tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami, in which the Scot is defending few points and can strengthen his position as world No1. Murray said: [A] 16-hour flight to LA, and itll take a few days to get over there. I struggled in Indian Wells and Miami last year, and hopefully I can well play there.
Murray said told Sky Sports: Its always nice to win any tournament but especially ones you havent won before, so Im very happy to do it here for the first time. Its been a good start to the year.
Its been quite a few late finishes this week and maybe the last couple of matches I didnt start as well as I would have liked. But its been the same for all of the players. Its been a tricky week with the drizzle and the rain and the matches starting a bit later, but once I got going today I was moving well and I finished strong.Meanwhile, Novak Djokovics former mentor Niki Pilic said the Serbian world No2 has lost the tenacity which enabled him to rule the mens game for a number of years.
Djokovic reached the Mount Everest of tennis last year after winning the French Open, Pilic, who guided the Serb as a junior at his Munich academy, told the Bosnian daily Nezavisne.
He had 16,950 points and thats a tally which will never be repeated again, but loss of form and missing tournaments made his advantage melt away.
This week he was beaten by the Australian Nick Kyrgios in the quarter-finals of an ATP event in Mexico, prompting Pilic to cast doubts over whether Djokovic can reclaim the top spot. The hard work of the last five or six years has taken its toll. Tennis was the priority every morning and afternoon and evening and all I can tell him is to be the person he was, said Pilic.