For Andy Murray, the best birthday wish was granted even before he blew out the candles on the cake presented to him with the trophy on Sunday. The 29-year-old won a decisive victory in the Italian Open final in Rome. It was his first win on clay in five attempts against World No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
The match ended in a 6-3, 6-3 triumph for Murray. His flawless first serve, which is becoming a formidable weapon in his arsenal, set the tone for some aggressive tennis, which for once, left the ‘unflappable Djokovic’ a little shaken.
It wasn’t the best of days for Djokovic, who seemed to be in an uncharacteristic bad mood, looking visibly rattled. He even openly expressed his annoyance with umpire Damien Steiner’s decision to continue the match despite rain, asking loudly if ‘someone needs to get hurt’ before the match was called off. Nevertheless, he gave Murray credit for putting up a great game, and later admitted that he might have become ‘too emotional’ in his protest.
To put things in perspective though, Murray did sail through to the final with a greater advantage than Djokovic, who had to contend with Rafael Nadal in the quarter-final, and then battle through a three-hour marathon semi-final against Kei Nishikori which went on till nearly midnight on Saturday. No doubt that must have taken its toll on his nerves.
The two top players are now gearing up for Roland Garros in Paris, where they’ll probably be clashing for the French Open crown.