On a remarkable Sunday at Foro Italico at Rome, British no.1 Andy Murray scored his first ever victory on clay over the top seed and world’s number one tennis player Novak Djokovic. The straight sets win allowed Murray to celebrate his 29th birthday in style. With the French Open just round the corner, Murray’s turnaround win, after losing the Madrid Open to Djokovic last week, should be a warning sound to the top-ranked players preparing to cross over to the red courts of the famed Roland Garros in a few days. Along with the Scot, Serena Williams also returned to the winning ways after several months but the American had to face some feisty opposition from her compatriot Madison Keys. There were comeback victories in men and women’s doubles as well with India’s Sania Mirza/Martina Hingis and USA’s Bryan Brothers also winning in the finals of the 2016 Rome Masters.
Andy Murray has finally done it! After a monotonous rut of always losing to Serbia’s world no.1 in most past meetings, Murray reversed the trend at Rome on his 29th birthday on May 15, 2016. Besides, Murray also earned the honor of becoming the first British player since George Patrick Hughes defeated Frenchman Henri Cochet in 1931 to win the Italian Open. Murray definitely played better tennis than Djokovic on Sunday and dominated most of the long rallies. He began the match by breaking the Serb early in the first set and a tight hold allowed the Brit to take the first set easily. On the other hand, Djokovic appeared in a grumpy mood and complained about the slipperiness of the surface. However, Murray remained resilient and focused, as he broke the world no.1 twice in the second set to finish a very convincing 95-minute 6-3, 6-3 victory. The triumph, coming just before the French Open, should serve as a major boost for Murray.
Earlier on Sunday, USA’s Serena Williams also a got a boost ahead of the French Open even as she overcame a tough challenge from compatriot Madison Keys to clinch the women’s singles title. Serena thus ended a nearly 9-month long WTA title drought and showed she was ready to defend her Roland Garros crown. But Keys didn’t give in so easily. She fought Serena hard in the first set that could only be decided on tiebreak. Earlier, Keys broke Williams’s serve in the opening game and although Serena found the break-back, she was pushed by Keys and couldn’t help the set going to the tiebreak. After losing the first-set tiebreak, Keys couldn’t match the power of a rejuvenated Serena in the second set. The world no.1 won the match 7-6, 6-3 in an hour and 24 minutes.
Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis also returned to the winning ways at Rome. The Indo-Swiss pair, however, had to work extra hard before clinching the issue in the match tiebreak against Russians Elena Vesnina/Ekaterina Makarova. SanTina flew off at start to take the first set at 6-1 before Vesnina/Makarova pulled back and took the second set on tiebreak and send the match to the deciding match tie-break. But SanTina played brilliantly in the decider to win the match 6-1, 6-7, 10-3. Men’s doubles crown went to the famed Bryan twins of California. This was also a turnaround of sorts since the fifth-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan haven’t won an ATP event for a while. On Sunday, they defeated 8th seeded Canadian Vasek Pospisil/American Jack sock 2-6, 6-3, 10-7 to win their fourth title at Rome after they first won here in 2008.