Murray loses game of Shanghai survival

By for MurraysWorld.com on
In what was less a tennis match and more a survival weekend, Andy Murray was today outlasted by Novak Djokovic in the final of the Shanghai Rolex Masters. Despite holding five championship points, Murray went down 5-7, 7-6, 6-3 to fall for the first time in the Qizhong Arena.

The space between Djokovic and Murray has always been defined by tight margins. A week at birth. One spot in the rankings. One result in the head-to-head record. But this match narrowed the gap to just one significant point.

In a one-hour, 14-minute first set, Murray continued the trend established in the US Open final. He was under the skin of the Serb like ringworm. A set of more breaks than holds saw Djokovic lose a vital service game at 5-5, followed swiftly by his mind, as he reduced his racket to splintered matchwood.

Djokovic’s volcanic reaction painted a vivid mental picture. The world number two has never lost this year when he’s sealed the first set, which has come to resemble a first-strike missile attack.

Murray duly served out an affair that saw Djokovic successful in just 33% of his second-serve points – a statistic that illustrates the glee with which Murray has been seizing on his rivals’ weaker deliveries of late.

The second set defined the mental battle between the two friends just as surely as if they’d been playing chess with a gun against their temples. As with much of their careers, Djokovic was building bricks and mortar, but Murray was doing a nice line in interior décor, too.

It was this outstanding creative input, coupled with the Scot’s blistering offensive forehand, that sealed the break in the vital seventh. Then, at 5-4, with Murray serving at 30-0, an exhausting rally saw the Serb flick a desperate tweener back into court and score with a near-perfect drop shot.

Although Murray made it to championship point, a short ball enabled the Serb to sweep a forehand for a clean winner. The match pummelled its way into a tiebreak, Murray missed four more championship points and, as the Serb closed out a titanic tiebreak, it was Murray’s turn to mash his racket.

A weary-looking deciding set explored the limits of mental endurance rather than the outer edges of the respective talents of the two men, and Djokovic broke both Murray’s serve and spirit at 3-3. At one point using his racket as a prop, the Scot finally capitulated on his serve at 3-5 as Djokovic bellowed into the Shanghai night air.

For much of the match, the pair had been like two men sharing the same parachute. But this encounter ultimately defined not only the distance between the two friends – one single trick shot – but surely also the changing shape of men’s tennis.
He's going to look back on those wasted match points and kick himself. That easy missed forehand to yield the final mini-break in the tie-break was costly as well.

Still, a decent match given the struggles he had early in the tournament.
October 14, 2012, 01:12 PM
By boogers

I'm sure he'll bounce back.
October 14, 2012, 01:27 PM
By ProdigyEng

How frustrating this Murray guy is?  Unbelievable CHOKE!  Five match points and no killer instinct!  I don't like DJOKER but what guts!!!!!
That's the difference between Murray and the real top 3!!!!  Guts in the Clutch baby....!  Murray had it in two sets and let it slip away big time!
Bring out the cry baby towel now people!  Djoker is now certain to reach year end #1 from washed up Smugfest!!!
October 14, 2012, 01:28 PM
By tennchokest

How frustrating this Murray guy is?  Unbelievable CHOKE!  Five match points and no killer instinct!  I don't like DJOKER but what guts!!!!!
That's the difference between Murray and the real top 3!!!!  Guts in the Clutch baby....!  Murray had it in two sets and let it slip away big time!
Bring out the cry baby towel now people!  Djoker is now certain to reach year end #1 from washed up Smugfest!!!

Nice try, time to go and Fi d somewhere else to hang out.
October 14, 2012, 01:29 PM
By Murray Magic

be kind Nigel.  Yes I agree he'll be kicking himself but I hope we won't kick him.  He played brilliantly for much of what as an amazing match.  He just couldn't quite do it and come back when Nole found new reserves.  Given he'd not been feeling well and I hadn't even expected him to get to the final after the match against Stepanek, while I'm inevitably disappointed - as always hate it when he loses - I feel proud of what he's achieved.  And he plays now with a new air of authority I feel.  My main hope is that he can finish the year well at WTF - more important than adding another masters to his tally, nice as that would have been.
October 14, 2012, 01:29 PM
By Ruthie

How frustrating this Murray guy is?  Unbelievable CHOKE!  Five match points and no killer instinct!  I don't like DJOKER but what guts!!!!!
That's the difference between Murray and the real top 3!!!!  Guts in the Clutch baby....!  Murray had it in two sets and let it slip away big time!
Bring out the cry baby towel now people!  Djoker is now certain to reach year end #1 from washed up Smugfest!!!
go and choke on your own pathetic words.  What rubbish.  You're talking about the man who won USO having lost a 2 set lead - choker?  I think not. 
October 14, 2012, 01:31 PM
By Ruthie

I am sorry Andy lost but he played well I think he gets nervous when trying to serve out the match. He played well and his game has improved a lot. He deserves praise and not the usual cynical comments that appear when he loses a match. It seems that the fair weather friends appear on MW when he loses. The year is not over still more points to gather on to Paris and the WTF in London.
October 14, 2012, 01:36 PM
By Littlebuddha

He blinked and u can't afford to do that against Nole. Hope he learns from that.
Also clear he ran out of gas in the third set. As he is one of the fittest people on the planet I can only conclude the virus caught up with him.
But so many positives. This is the new rivalry in tennis and I personally can't wait for 2013. yay
Next time Nole. next time..... :p
October 14, 2012, 01:40 PM
By blueberryhill

I am sorry Andy lost but he played well I think he gets nervous when trying to serve out the match. He played well and his game has improved a lot. He deserves praise and not the usual cynical comments that appear when he loses a match. It seems that the fair weather friends appear on MW when he loses. The year is not over still more points to gather on to Paris and the WTF in London.

Exactly more points to be had for Andy and only 180 to defend so no pressure on him and loads to gain.  Hope he has a good rest to get over this virus thing.  I thought he played brill given his physical state. 
October 14, 2012, 01:40 PM
By Murray Magic

Whatever, I don't take this loss as that important. That's the way the cookie crumbles.
October 14, 2012, 01:41 PM
By tennis_girl

How frustrating this Murray guy is?  Unbelievable CHOKE!  Five match points and no killer instinct!  I don't like DJOKER but what guts!!!!!
That's the difference between Murray and the real top 3!!!!  Guts in the Clutch baby....!  Murray had it in two sets and let it slip away big time!
Bring out the cry baby towel now people!  Djoker is now certain to reach year end #1 from washed up Smugfest!!!

I see the idiots are migrating from The Daily Mail. I assume ND also choked in the Wimbledon Semi against Fed, The Olympic Semi against Murray, Bronze Medal match against Del Potro, and the US Open against Murray. Plus a few other matches this year. It happens idiot.
October 14, 2012, 01:43 PM
By Masaka

I've been so impressed with Murray this week. The match against Federer and this match especially were incredible. I actually really like his serving, not a high percentage because his motion isn't perfect right now but he's being so smart with it. His returning has been at the best I've ever seen and I'm happy that he's kept up with his aggression. The biggest downside and problem right now seems to be the forehand there's quite a few too many errors swinging from it. I hope he can put a lot more work into his forehand before the WTF and get it swinging properly. Overall though this has been a great tournament for Andy though.
October 14, 2012, 01:45 PM
By laundry

Edge of your seat stuff for me, watching two worthy opponents going toe-to-toe. Nole is like the punchbag who always gets back up no matter how blows he's given. Some jaw-dropping shots from both players, and up until the tb it was anyone's match..then Andy's legs left the building in the 3rd.

No worries..the reigning USO champ will be back to play many more matches with the Djoker as they claim their era of rivalry.
October 14, 2012, 01:48 PM
By scotnadian

At least Heather Watson won a final today, I'm happy about that Smile
October 14, 2012, 01:51 PM
By laundry

After a 2 set win I planned to do so much in the garden on this sunny Sunday, now I can't be bothered.
October 14, 2012, 01:54 PM
By FCR

Great report again Nigel.  But can our collective blood pressure stand the prospect of an Andy-Nole rivalry defining tennis for next few years?   So exciting to think of what lies ahead. 
Even though he ran out of gas, and couldn't take those championship points in 2nd set, he looked to me like a man playing with a new air of authority.  This is just a minor blip after the triumphs of London 2012 and NY.
October 14, 2012, 02:03 PM
By Ruthie

Good match report Nigel very fair and balanced. Pretty much what I saw myself as I watched. Like others I too think there are many positives to take away from recent weeks. As for the troll comment on the first page I would usually say better ignoring them than replying and encouraging them back - but I liked the comparision you made Masaka!  Whistle
October 14, 2012, 02:05 PM
By scotjules

But this encounter ultimately defined not only the distance between the two friends – one single trick shot – but surely also the changing shape of men’s tennis.
This is very poignant, consider that if Djoker missed that crazy tweener he would have probably lost the match. That's how close these things are and Andy was so close to winning it practically was a win.
October 14, 2012, 02:08 PM
By laundry

I think this might turn out to be a healthy defeat
October 14, 2012, 02:12 PM
By Johnny Handsome

Edge of your seat stuff for me, watching two worthy opponents going toe-to-toe. Nole is like the punchbag who always gets back up no matter how blows he's given. Some jaw-dropping shots from both players, and up until the tb it was anyone's match..then Andy's legs left the building in the 3rd.

No worries..the reigning USO champ will be back to play many more matches with the Djoker as they claim their era of rivalry.
Well said, scotnadian - common sense attitude - well done Andy - he and Novak are the two to watch now I feel.
October 14, 2012, 02:12 PM
By janscribe

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