Andy Murray has been knocked out of the Sony Open in Miami, losing 7-5, 6-3 to Novak Djokovic in today's quarter-final match.
The quality of tennis in the first set was very high, but the end of the set was marred by a controversial call concerning a Djokovic volley. This call seemed to unsettle Murray and he was broken to lose the set. Although he reacted positively to go a break up in the second set, the defending champion couldn't maintain his advantage and back-to-back breaks for the world number 2 enabled him to serve out a straight sets win.
Both players served very well in the first set, and hit their groundstrokes with excellent depth. Murray was notably aggressive in his approach, hitting the ball precisely and with power. Djokovic had two opportunities to break in the fourth game but the Scot saved both with good play - the first with a powerful backhand down the line which forced the Serb's reply long and the second with a forehand crosscourt winner.
The set continued on serve with no further break point opportunities until 5-5 when two double faults from the Serb gave Murray a break point. But he missed a forehand into the net which levelled the score to deuce and good serving allowed the world number 2 to hold.
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With Murray serving at 5-6 down, the controversial point involving the Djokovic volley occurred. The replay on the stadium big screen appeared to show the Serb making contact with the ball over the Scot's side of the net, but the umpire maintained that contact was made on Djokovic's side first. This seemed to affect Murray's concentration and he made two unforced errors to go down 0-40; Djokovic took the set after the Brit sent a crosscourt backhand long.
Despite the frustrating end to the first set, Murray maintained his aggressive play to start the second set. He broke for a 3-2 lead in a game where he outplayed his opponent at the net, breaking with a delightful volley that Djokovic was unable to reach. But the Serb showed his mental resilience by breaking straight back, and holding with ease.
Murray then played a poor service game with unforced errors seeing him fall to a 0-40 deficit; a long rally ended with the world number 6 sending a backhand into the net. Djokovic broke for 5-3 and then served out the match to love. Although Murray leaves Miami as a defeated player, today was arguably one of his best performances this season, especially in the first set, and is an encouraging sign for the upcoming months.
Murray will be in Davis Cup quarterfinal action next week when Great Britain take on Italy in Naples.