31st March, 2013
British second seed Andy Murray won the ATP Miami Masters title on Sunday, saving a match point in the third set in defeating Spanish third seed David Ferrer 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/1).
Murray captured his 26th career tour title, and second of the year having taken the Brisbane crown, after two hours and 45 minutes.
It was the second Miami title for the 25-year-old Murray, who won the title in 2009 and lost last year’s final to Novak Djokovic.
And the victory was a heartbreak to hard-fighting Spanish star, who was so near lifting the trophy, but had his game disintegrate because of some thigh injury. Ferrer went back to his corner when the decisive tie break ended 7-1 in favour of Murray, who equally was not feeling too good towards the end of the match.
“Both of us fought hard,” Murray said. “Both of us were struggling physically at the end. I was lucky to come through.”
Murray will rise to World No. 2, bumping his way ahead of Roger Federer, while Ferrer will move past Rafael Nadal to become fourth in the rankings, both men matching the best position of their careers with the improvement.
Nadal and Federer skipped this year’s edition of the $8.5 million hardcourt event in Miami, which also included a WTA event won by Serena Williams, while World No. 1 Djokovic was ousted in the fourth round.
Murray, who owns a home 10 minutes from the stadium, beat Ferrer, who turns 31 on Tuesday, for the seventh time in 12 career meetings. Ferrer’s only win over Murray off clay was at the 2011 ATP World Tour Finals.
Ferrer, who has won this year at Auckland and Buenos Aires, failed in his bid to win his first US title and become the first Spaniard to win the Miami title. He is 0-12 in finals against players ranked in the world’s top four.
“I am tired. It was a very long match,” Ferrer said. “Andy had more at the end. Congratulations to him.”
Ferrer, who fell to 21-5 on the season, apologized to supporters in the crowd he compared to those in his homeland for their passion, saying, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. One point. Next time.”
Ferrer and Murray exchanged breaks over the first six games of the third set, then each held serve once before Murray broke Ferrer for a 5-4 edge when the Spaniard netted a forehand.
Murray served for the match but surrendered a break instead, Ferrer pulling level and then holding serve for a 6-5 advantage, both games decided when the Briton netted a forehand.
Ferrer reached match point in the 12th game on Murray’s serve but stopped play on the key point to challenge on a Murray forehand that was ruled on the baseline, setting the stage for Murray to hold and force the tie-breaker.
“That’s the beauty of the challenge system,” Murray said. “Some matches that would have been over. Luckily it just dropped in.”
Murray roared ahead 4-0 in the tie-breaker and Ferrer collapsed to the court with a leg cramp after falling behind 5-1. He rose but was finished two points later by the Scot on a backhand winner, Murray improving to 14-2 in the year.
“He’s one of the best players in the world,” Murray said of Ferrer. “Every time I play him people expect me to win. He’s a great player. He’s a fighter. He didn’t even play his best tennis and he still could have won the match.”