Andy Murray Edges David Ferrer, Wins Second Sony Open Title

Andy Murray poses with the Sony Open winner’s trophy

By Jane Voigt

MIAMI, FL (March 31, 2013) — A pit bull is the wrong image for David Ferrer. He is tenacious, but not mean. His speaks softly, at least in English. And when he talks about his tennis friends, he speaks kindly of them.

Under his pleasant demeanor, though, David Ferrer is the biggest fighter on tour with a deep roar discharged after each ball is struck.

But as much fighting as he did throughout this dramatic final, he came up short against Andy Murray, 2-6 6-4 7-6(1). This is his second Sony Open title, having won it in 2009.

“I showed good mental strength,” Murray said.

However, he is one lucky Scot to have squeaked off the win.

“I wasn’t thinking too much at the end,” Murray said, rubbing his forehead as if it hurt. “I was so tired and not too many nerves at the end.”

The final was the second-longest in tournament history — two hours and forty-five minutes — since changing to a best-of-three set format. Murray’s victory marks the sixth time he has come back from a set down to win an ATP title. Additionally, this was the third final here where a third-set tiebreak decided the winner.

“It was a brutal, brutal match,” Murray said, frankly. “It was one of the toughest matches I have had to play in a Masters Series, for sure.”

After a slow and sloppy start from the No. 2 seed, followed by game after game of breaks from both men, poor line calls, and rowdy fans — one of which was thrown out — Murray raised his hands.

“I don’t think he gets the respect that he deserves within the game,” Murray said, after being asked if he felt a touch of sympathy toward Ferrer. “He’s improved every single year. Providing his body holds up he’ll be around the top of the game for as long as he wants, or can be. He’s a very, very, very good tennis player and has a great attitude.”

Ferrer’s attitude and tenacious tennis grabbed Murray by the neck like a Scottish Terrier, and shook every ounce of tennis from him on a hot humid day, only to end with a loss that had him apologizing to fans during the award presentation.

“I’m sorry,” he began, speaking in Spanish, with red swollen eyes as if he’d cried beforehand. “I’m so sorry. When I play here it’s like I’m playing in Spain.”

In between his apologies, he touched on one point he will remember forever.

It happened in the third set, which had every element of tour-level tennis, but not necessarily good tennis where each played consistently at their best.

Six games went by with six breaks of serve. After each held, they gave up their advantage. Neither gained ground.

Ferrer’s best chance then was nothing less than perfect, as Murray served to stay in the match at 5-6. Ferrer had reached match point.

This match point against a top five player, when Ferrer’s record in ATP Masters 1000 event finals had stood at 0-12 against this elite group, had deep meaning.

Had he converted, he would have become the first Spaniard to win here since the tournament began in 1985. In a city nicknamed the “Capital of Latin American,’ the victory would have given him a well-deserved helping of pride and confidence. Three other Spaniards had attempted to win Miami — Rafael Nadal, Carlos Moya, and Sergei Bruguerra.

“It was a very close match,” Ferrer said. “I had my chance in the match point.”

An authentic tragedy for Ferrer, and for the fans who had cheered him on as fan spirit came alive while seconds ticked.

“DAA-VEEEED,” they cried in unison.

“Please, stay quiet during the rally,” yelled the chair umpire.

No matter the love and praise Murray heaped on his friend during and after the award presentation, Ferrer knew he had sinned. He stopped play on the ultimate break point, his one match point, being clearly uncertain a second later about his decision. The consequences were deadly.

“The ball, it was really close,” Ferrer said solemnly. “I saw out, and, you know, really close.”

This, Ferrer’s 13th try for tennis history, against a man who began slowly and wigged out quickly, smacking his feet and his head along with occasional outbursts toward his box, a sine quo nom for the Scot, seemed cruel.

“He wasn’t even playing his best tennis and could have beaten me,” Murray admitted.

The tiebreak was a blowout for Murray. Exhausted and cramping badly, Ferrer had checked out. He committed over five unforced errors, as Murray sprinted to the finish.

Throughout the match, players thrilled fans with lengthy rallies and acrobatic tennis.

“I felt fairly fresh this week,” Murray said. “I didn’t play so well last week in Indian Wells. Here I felt better. Today, being fresh helped. I just managed to get over the line in the end.”

CBS did not take millions of viewers over the line, though. At the start of the tiebreak it cut away to show NCAA basketball. The match switched to Tennis Chanel, but only after two points had been played. Mardy Fish reminded Twitter followers that CBS pays $25 million for rights to broadcast Sony Open Tennis and $770 million for NCAA broadcast rights.

“It’s obviously a shame that people didn’t get to see the end of what I think was a pretty exciting match,” Murray said. “But that’s the way it goes sometimes.”