- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 5, 2009

KEY BISCAYNE, FLA. (AP) - Andy Murray hit second serves for aces, angled passing shots through the narrowest openings and rarely made a mistake.

It was a performance worthy of a trophy, and Murray became the first Brit to win the Sony Ericsson Open by defeating Novak Djokovic 6-2, 7-5 Sunday.

The Scotsman used his vast repertoire of shots and took advantage of two wobbly stretches by Djokovic. The Serb looked nervous at the start and fell behind 4-0, and in the second set Murray rallied from a break down at 1-4 and won 10 of the final 11 points.

Murray became the first three-time titlist on the men’s tour this year. He’s off to a career-best 26-2 start, and since July his record is 57-7, best on the tour.

He finished with only 19 unforced errors, while Djokovic had 43.

It was a matchup of Nos. 3 and 4 instead of the anticipated showdown between Nos. 1 and 2. Top-ranked Rafael Nadal lost in the quarterfinals to Juan Martin del Potro, and Djokovic upset Roger Federer in the semifinals.

With U.S. tennis fortunes flagging, maybe Americans can claim Murray, who owns a condo near Key Biscayne and trained during the winter at the University of Miami. Back home, he’s touted as a threat to become the first British man since 1936 to win Wimbledon.

On a sunny, 85-degree day, Murray looked fresh throughout the match, while Djokovic appeared to wilt quickly and consulted with a trainer early in the second set.

That conversation preceded Djokovic’s best burst of tennis. His serve improved, he began finding the range with his groundstrokes and he broke Murray twice to win four games in a row.

Murray needed 16 points in the next game to hold for 2-4, which swung the momentum back his way. He hit three aces to hold for 5-all, broke in the next game at love and swept the final four points to close out the match.

Murray patiently mixed the pace and direction of his shots to keep Djokovic off balance at the baseline. When the Serb came in, Murray repeatedly beat him with crosscourt passing shots.

The statistics reflected Murray’s well-rounded game: He won 26 of 34 points on his first serve, broke Djokovic five times and won 10 of 11 points at the net. Twice he hit second serves for aces, and he threw in several effective changeup first serves, including a 76 mph ace.

Top-ranked Serena Williams, who was bothered by an injured left thigh, was upset 6-3, 6-1 in the women’s final Saturday by 19-year-old Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.

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