Andy Murray did not have much to say. There was not much he could say after being comprehensively outplayed by Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals of the BNP Paribas Open on Saturday.
Murray had not taken a pounding like that at a Masters 1000 event since Djokovic flattened him in the Miami Open semi-finals in 2007.
Back then. he lost 6-1, 6-0. On Saturday the thrashing was a more respectable 6-2, 6-3 but, even so, it was not a match he will want to remember.
Sure enough, he broke the Serb’s serve in the first set (and then dropped his own serve in the next game) and he did have a couple of break points in the second set. But it was nowhere near enough to trouble the world No 1.
As he did after his loss to Djokovic in the Australian Open final a couple of months ago, Murray was at pains to point out that he was playing the best player on the planet and, in this era of serial grand slam winners and history makers, the Serb is therefore one of the best players of all time.
Expecting to win every match against Djokovic is just plain daft. But the fear is that, if Murray keeps telling himself that, he may just start to believe it. So was this recent defeat a setback or just a minor hiccup?
“I’ve no idea, to be honest; I don’t know,” Murray said with his customary honesty.
“I guess next week [at the Miami Open] is an important week for me as well. It was not obviously the best result today but I’m playing against one of the best players of all time and you can’t expect to win every match against him. It’s not always going to go exactly how you want it to and, unfortunately, I didn’t play my best today.
“In Australia I felt like I was extremely close. I didn’t feel like the difference was necessarily in the level of the tennis. I didn’t feel like there was a difference.
“Obviously, my consistency over the last couple of years is something that hasn’t been as good as I would have liked, whereas the guys ahead of me have been much better, especially in the Masters Series events, which, earlier in my career, I was better at.
“I played better in these events, so that’s something I need to try to do a little bit better when I come up against them in these tournaments. That’s for sure.
“I felt like this week I was playing a high level of tennis. Just today didn’t start as well as I would have liked.”
At the start of the year, Murray had clearly made huge strides during the off-season. From the tame ending to last season and that 6-0, 6-1 thumping at the hands of Roger Federer at the ATP Finals, he was obviously fit, refreshed and playing with more aggression and imagination. The thought of that progress made the loss in the Melbourne final a little easier to bear but to lose again, and lose so tamely, to Djokovic was not just disappointing, it was depressing.
“The guys that are ahead of me just now, that I’m competing with, their consistency is pretty much unheard of,” Murray said. “Very few players ever have been able to do what they have. A lot of the times I have lost against those guys, it’s tough, but it’s a challenge that I enjoy and like. This week I felt like I was playing really good tennis. Today I lost comfortably. So, I know that there is still things that I’m going to need to improve and work on in the next few months before the French Open and Wimbledon.”
Champing at the bit to get out of California and on to Miami for the next Masters 1000 event of the year, Murray wanted to get back to work on the practice courts he knows so well near his home-from-home on Brickell Avenue. He was pleased with the way he coped with the desert conditions over the past ten days – that was one positive thought to take with him after Saturday’s loss – but he was more than happy to wave them goodbye and get back an environment he knows and likes.
“The conditions are completely different in Miami, it’s like opposites, really,” he said. “Here it’s as dry as it can be and obviously in Miami it’s pretty much one of the most humid places we play during the year, so it’s completely different conditions. So, again, I’ll need to adjust to that, hopefully. I think the conditions there suit me better. I obviously practise in them all the time and hopefully I can play some better tennis next week.
“I hadn’t made the semis of one of these events for two years so that’s a positive. It was the best I’d played here in a long time, for sure. I think after Davis Cup, to come here and play for as well as I did for most of the tournament was positive and now the goal is to go to Miami and hopefully make some improvements upon this week. That’s what I really have to try to do.”
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