GREAT Britain's highest ranked player Andy Murray has clearly hit the purple patch. The Scot, once again, heralded that he is the man to watch out for this year by authoritatively defending his title at the season opening Qatar ExxonMobil Open with a straight sets 6-4, 6-2 win over Andy Roddick of US at the Khalifa Tennis Complex, yesterday.
With the world's top players Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer falling to Gael Monfils and Murray respectively, the finals was always going to lose some sheen. However, none at the jam-packed centre court expected it to be a one-sided affair.
Murray in action against American fourth seed Andy Roddick in the final. Murray won 6-4, 6-2. Pics: Jayan Orma
Murray, who came in as a firm favourite after his triumph at the unofficial star studded tournament in Abu Dhabi, has been in a class of his own right from the start and yesterday was no different.
"I think I played very well this week. But most of this success is due to the good work-out I had in Abu Dhabi last week. If I serve well and continue playing the way I did this week, then I have a chance to do well at the Australian Open. I feel confident going into the Grand Slam, but I will take one match at a time," said a triumphant Murray after the match.
The odds also favoured the defending champion going into the finals. Of the eight career meets between the two, Murray led the head-to-head series 5-2, including 4-2 on hard courts. The most recent being the Masters Cup last season, where Murray snatched a 6-4, 1-6, 6-1 victory.
The hard serving fourth seed Roddick tried everything he had up his sleeves but rarely had the Scot in any sort of bother. Murray's all-round game completely overshadowed the American, who too was on a resurgence mode after a forgettable last season marred with injury.
Once Murray held his first two serves at 40-15 and love to be on level terms at 2-2, one could sense it was just going to be the Scots' day. With relentless ease, he then broke Roddick in the fifth game at love to go 3-2 up and later held his own serve without losing point to consolidate the lead.
Roddick's success in the tournament so far was due to his immense ability to fire those breathtaking aces at crucial junctures. He led the field with 40 aces coming into the finals but even that lethal weapon eluded him on the 'D' day as he only managed one — that too when the curtains were coming down on him.
"I felt that he (Murray) was on top of the game right through. He's quite in the top form right now. He has done everything to prove he's good enough to be at the top. You are capable when you have done it.
"But I am happy with the way I have played this week. But all the same I could have served better today," said Roddick, giving due credit to his opponent.
With Roddick offering very little resistance, Murray sealed the first set at love in the 10th game firing in two aces that whizzed past Roddick at speeds well over 200kph.
Roddick again struggled to hold his serve in the first game of the second set but was not that fortunate in the third. Trailing 15-30, he first lost a thrilling close net duel and then a forehand return went long to hand Murray the crucial break.
With pride severely dented, the American made desperate effort to steer a comeback by stealing his first break point of the match in the must win ninth game. However, Murray denied that lifeline but firing in an ace and then followed it up with two brilliant cross court winners to seal the championship.
"I am still close to being my best, so I can play still better. I just need to try and get some finer points of my game in order and then make sure I come up with a repeat of what I did at the end of last year with my performance at Wimbledon and the US Open. If I play my best, then I am capable of beating the best," said Murray, who was richer by $183,000. Roddick added that the tournament has done a world of good in his build-up to the season.
"I am in a pretty good form right now. Fitness has been one of the major improvements for me. Now it's just a matter of finding form. All the smaller aspects of the game now need to come together at the same time as only this can help accomplish other things," revealed Roddick, who pocketed $96,000 for his effort.
Follow us on our social media channels: