Andy Murray celebrated his 29th birthday in the best possible way as he claimed a rare victory over Novak Djokovic to win the Italian Open for the very first time. It was only a second success in 14 meetings for the Brit against the world No.1 and the first occasion he has beaten the Serb on clay.
Murray won in convincing fashion 6-3 6-3 to ensure he did not drop a set all week. And he produced perhaps the shot of the tournament to win the match, retrieving from well outside the tram lines to pass Djokovic at the net.
Murray’s game on clay has proved immensely over the years and he has now learned to enjoy the surface after making some changes to his game.
“Any time you beat the best player in the world it is a big win,” he said after he was given a cake on court as a birthday present. “And I know that every time I play him I need to play a great match if I am to win.
“The finals of a Mastes Series on clay is a new experience and it is nice to be achieving those goal. It’s been really good preparation for the French Open.
“My coaches said clay should be my best surface but it has taken me a long time to gain confidence on it. But my mentality is changed now when I go on court. I don’t feel off balance and feel I can chase balls. It’s an easy surface for me now.”
For Djokovic this was maybe one match too far after gruelling three set matches earlier in the competition.
“My confidence level is high because of the matches, many matches that I have won this year on this surface and all the other surfaces,” he said.
“So I don’t feel that I’m doubtful or I’m shaken up by this loss. Of course, you don’t like to lose, but, you know, you’ve got to congratulate the better player that played well today, Andy, and he deserved to win. I move on to Paris knowing that I’m going to approach it hopefully healthy and refreshed and then givng it my all, as always, in Paris.”