Monday, April 2, 2012

Djokovic ends 'drought' with Miami title

   By Novak Djokovic's lofty standards, it was a drought.
   The world's No. 1 player had lost in the semifinals of two consecutive tournaments before coming to Key Biscayne, Fla. But he rectified that situation by retaining his title in the Sony Ericsson Open on Sunday.
   Djokovic beat fourth-seeded Andy Murray 6-1, 7-6 (4) to equal Pete Sampras with three Sony Ericsson titles. Only Andre Agassi, with six, has won more men's crowns.
   Djokovic improved to 20-2 this year and 90-8 since the beginning of 2011. He didn’t lose a set in six matches at Key Biscayne.
   “I’m playing at the peak of my form … the best tennis that I have played,” Djokovic, who improved to 8-5 against Murray, told reporters. “I have to use that as much as I can."
   Djokovic also avenged a loss to Murray in the 2009 final at Key Biscayne.
   “He doesn’t have many holes in his game,” said Murray, who won his first ATP World Tour title at 18 years old at the 2006 SAP Open in San Jose and repeated the following year. “When you play against him, it takes normally six, seven, eight shots, like 15-, 16-shot rallies, to win a lot of points. You have
to be very patient, pick your moments to go for the right shots. That’s why he’s been so good the last 18 months.”
   Djokovic was playing in his third tournament since outlasting Rafael Nadal in an epic 5-hour, 53-minute battle for the Australian Open title in late January. It was Djokovic's third straight Grand Slam title, fourth in the last five Slams and fifth overall. He then fell to Murray in straight sets in Dubai and to 6-foot-10 John Isner, 7-6 in the third set, at Indian Wells.
   After a short rest, Djokovic will begin his clay-court season as he prepares for the French Open, the only major he hasn't won. A title at Roland Garros, May 27-June 10, would continue his quest for the Grand Slam.
   “This is very encouraging for me prior to the clay-court season,” Djokovic said. “I’m going to have
more confidence.”
   Still the one -- Mardy Fish, the Sacramento Capitals' marquee player in World TeamTennis, fell one spot in the world rankings to No. 9 but remains the top American man. Isner also fell one notch, to No. 11.
   Colleges -- Nick Andrews of Folsom in the Sacramento area led the 12th-ranked Cal men (9-7, 2-0 Pacific-12 Conference) to a 5-2 victory over Arizona (5-12, 0-2) in Tucson, Ariz.
   Andrews, ranked 76th nationally, crushed Giacomo Miccini 6-0, 6-0 at No. 1 singles and teamed with Christoffer Konigsfeldt to beat Sebastian Ionescu and Sameet Shinde 8-2 in doubles. Andrews and Konigsfeldt are ranked third.
   The ninth-ranked Cal women (15-4, 7-0 Pac-12) breezed to a 7-0 victory over No. 27 Arizona State (10-5, 2-3) in Berkeley.
   The No. 8 Stanford men (12-5, 2-0 Pac-12) ended three-match road swing with a 4-3 win over Utah (11-7, 0-2).

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