MASON - August 3, 2008 - No. 8 seed Andy Murray earned his first ATP Masters Series shield with a 7-6(4), 7-6(5) victory in two hours and 22 minutes over World No. 3 Novak Djokovic on Sunday. The 21-year-old Dunblane, Scotland native becomes the first British player to win an ATP Masters Series title since Tim Henman in Paris in 2003. Murray is also the first British player to win the title in Cincinnati. Henman was a runner-up in 2000 and Mark Cox a finalist in 1977.
"I mean, it's huge to win your first sort of major tournament, and to do it in a match like today makes it more special," said Murray, who is now 6-5 against Top 10 opponents this year.
"I've been in the semifinals four times before this week, and lost every time against tough players. This week I played well the whole week, and even though he had the chance to when he get back into the match, I was really happy with the way that I fought and stayed in there. I put in a lot of work off the court to be able to win these sort of tournaments, and it makes it all worthwhile."
Murray also moves from No. 9 to a career-high No. 6 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings with his third ATP title of the season. He won in Doha in January and Marseille in February. Murray is 6-4 lifetime in ATP finals.
Both players held serve in the first set as Murray took a 5-1 lead in the tie-break and hung on to win the opener 7-4. In the second set, Murray broke for a 5-3 advantage and held four match points in the next game before Djokovic broke. Both players held to force another tie-break. Murray never trailed in the tie-break, gaining a 4-2 lead when Djokovic double-faulted. Murray went up 6-4 on another Djokovic double-fault and then secured the title on his sixth match point, hitting a backhand winner down the line.
"You just got to try and stay focused," said Murray when asked about the four match points. "I mean, I think on one of them I maybe made a mistake, but he hit a dropshot what hit off the net cord. He had a huge forehand winner and a backhand return winner down the line. Sometimes against the top players they can do that, and you need to understand that you're still in the match and you're in a better position than he did. I fought and just tried to stay calm and make sure I stuck to my game plan, and I managed to do that.
Djokovic, who was attempting to pick up his fourth title of the year (3-2 in finals) and fifth career ATP Masters Series shield (4-2), falls to 10-5 lifetime in finals.
"It's different when you play against an opponent who plays a similar game with you," said Djokovic, who lost to Murray for the second week in a row (Toronto). "He was making me hit a lot unforced errors. It's a fast court, but Nadal plays high balls which are suitable to my forehand. But he was playing a lot of slice and changing pace to my forehand. I just lost the rhythm.
"Well, overall, I wasn't really happy with the way I played today. I could have played better. I had some chances."