In the Bible, tiny David beat the Philistine giant Goliath with just one slingshot. In the Shanghai Masters final today, Andy Murray had to soak up dozens of attacks from the 5 foot 9 inch David Ferrer, but prevailed 7-5 6-4 for his third straight title.
In the highest echelons of tennis, we're told, the difference between being great and merely incredibly good can be just a couple of points. And, in this entertaining encounter, we saw both of them at the sharp end of the first set.
Having swapped a couple of breaks early on, the Scot and the Spaniard pounded their way to 5-5. Murray had wheeled out his new beefed up serve that at one point registered 137mph, and Ferrer had retrieved like a panting dog in the park, tongue out, not knowing when he's done.
Rallies had been fierce, exploring the outer limits of the court's geography, and the retrieving, at times, improbable. Then came the tipping point of the match. With Ferrer serving at 5-5, 30-30, the Spaniard dumped a routine backhand into the net and followed up with a double fault.Read more (261 words)
The object lesson in comparative mental strength perfectly demonstrated, Murray completed the crowd's education by duly serving out the set. Although the Scot's second serve had looked relatively shaky, he'd landed 69% of his first deliveries and won 86% of the points behind it.
But Ferrer is a terrier, and losing the first set just means more exercise, and dogs love that. Three times this week, the world number five had won his matches from a set down, against Ferrero, Roddick and Lopez.
The second set opened with three consecutive breaks, before Murray imposed his first delivery to better effect to wrest control of the contest at 3-1. Although he spurned break points at 1-3 and 2-4, the Scot was luring Ferrer out of his comfort zone and into the net.
Like a dog that's no longer a puppy, but is still keen to learn new tricks, Ferrer willingly drove himself forwards, even when the net result was a botched smash at a crucial moment.
With Murray serving for the match at 5-4, and with the prominent FedEx hoardings reminding everyone what was at stake – Federer's world number three spot – the Scot threw in a rickety game until his new best friend, the 130-mph serve, came to his aid and effectively sealed the match.
As Murray paraded his eighth Masters trophy around the Qizhong Arena, the face of the new world number three displayed a familiar look. We'd seen it across the features of Novak Djokovic after his Davis Cup triumph last season. And we all know what happened after that.