Murray celebrates birthday in style

Rome, May 16

Britain’s Andy Murray celebrated his 29th birthday in style on Sunday by winning his maiden Rome Masters title with a hard-fought win over disgruntled world No 1 Novak Djokovic.

Murray, the No 2 seed who suffered defeat to Djokovic in last week’s Masters final in Madrid, prevailed 6-3, 6-3 in one hour, 35 minutes. From a total of 32 previous meetings it is only Murray’s 10th win over tennis’s man of the moment.

It is only Murray’s third clay-court title, after his maiden victories on the red dirt in Munich and Madrid last year, but comes in timely fashion just two weeks before the start of the French Open at Roland Garros. Murray, who cruised into the final with an easy semi-final win over French lucky loser Lucas Pouille early on Saturday, came into the match fresher after Djokovic was forced into a three-hour epic by Japan’s Kei Nishikori later on Saturday.

It was the third three-set match he had played leading up to the final, and amid the challenging circumstances of intermittent rain, it did not take long for nerves to fray. Murray piled the pressure on from the start, earning a trio of break chances in Djokovic’s first service game.

The slippery conditions were not to Djokovic’s liking and Murray, who had no complaints about the weather, tried to capitalise. He won 16 of his first 19 service points, taking a 5-2 lead with an ace down the T, and then wrapped up the opener with a sublime forehand drop-shot winner to wrap up the set in 46 minutes.