World No 1 Novak Djokovic underlines growing danger on clay courts from British No 1 ahead of French Open
Rome: Novak Djokovic underlined the growing clay-court threat of Andy Murray barely a fortnight from the French Open after conceding defeat to the British No 1 in the final of the Rome Masters.
Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic
Murray, the No 2 seed who suffered defeat to Djokovic in last week's Masters final in Madrid, celebrated his 29th birthday in style with a stylish 6-3, 6-3 victory over the Serbian in one hour, 35 minutes.
It was Murray's first title in Rome, the third clay-court title of his career after victories on the red dirt in Munich and Madrid last year and, more importantly, comes in timely fashion. Murray's powerful serve had Djokovic in trouble on more than one occasion during a rain-hit one-hour-35-minutes final in which he requested, without success, a break amid fears he would slip and injure his ankle.
But Murray showed progress in other areas, and although Djokovic heads to Paris looking to make amends for last year's stunning defeat to Swiss Stan Wawrinka, Murray has just become a potentially bigger obstacle to his hopes of a 12th Grand Slam title.
'He has more variety in his shots'
"I think he's using the court better now. He has more variety in his shots from the baseline play, so obviously he did improve," said Djokovic. "Winning Madrid and Rome and, you know, a couple of clay-court tournaments the last couple of years proves it.
"At the French Open, the conditions are also a bit quicker, which he likes. He's been consistently playing well (at Roland Garros) throughout the years, and I'm sure he's going to be very motivated to do well again. He's going to come in in great form to Paris."
Becoming the first Briton to win in Rome since Patrick Hughes in 1931, it is the first time Murray's name has been added to a trophy since the birth of his baby daughter. He said the arrival of his daughter has changed his outlook on life and it will ultimately 'have a positive effect on my tennis career'.
"The last thing I looked at today before I went on the court was a picture of my daughter," said Murray.