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Murray Overcomes Del Potro To Win Masters 1000 Title

Montreal, Canada

Murray© Getty ImagesAndy Murray is the first British winner in Rogers Cup history.

Andy Murray had ended Juan Martin del Potro’s exceptional summer run last year at the US Open, and stemmed the start of a similar streak this season. The No. 3 seed battled past last week’s Washington champion 6-7(4), 7-6(3), 6-1 on Sunday at the Rogers Cup in Montreal to capture his fourth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title, also becoming the first British winner in tournament history.

Murray, who will replace Rafael Nadal as the World No. 2 following his effort in Montreal, earned $443,500 and 1000 South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings points – further boosting his chances of qualifying for the elite Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, to be held in November at the O2 in London. He also moved up to No. 3 in the US Open Series Bonus Challenge standings, trailing del Potro at No. 1 by 40 points.

Del Potro, playing his ninth match in 13 days, looked visibly spent compared to Murray in Sunday’s final. While Murray was making his first appearance since Wimbledon and had used the last two weeks getting acclimated to North American hard courts in Miami, del Potro had come to Montreal straight from last Sunday’s successful title defence in Washington, D.C. Additionally, whereas Murray had eased through the week without the loss of a set, del Potro had needed to save one match point Saturday in his win over Andy Roddick.

In spite of a fresher set of legs, Murray came within three points of a straight-sets loss as he struggled to control del Potro’s forehand returns during the opening two sets. The sixth-seeded del Potro – playing in his maiden ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final – took the mini-break in the first set tie-break to go up 5-4 when Murray placed a return wide, and served it out with an ace and blistering forehand winner past the Brit.

After trading early breaks of serve in the second set, del Potro made crucial saves to stay in the set but could not close out the match as Murray got back on level ground by clinching the tie-break. Del Potro said: “I felt my chance in the second set, tie-break second set, and I didn't take them.  I was trying until the final, but it was so complicated for me. Andy is a good player. I think he's a very good winner of this tournament.”

After two hours and 17 minutes of evenly played tennis, Murray finally wore down the Argentine in the 27-minute third set as his opponent managed to win just nine points total – including four on serve.

"He was just making it really tough because of the way that he was playing and serving, and he was always giving himself a chance," said Murray. "I had to keep fighting and believing in myself, and that was enough in the end."

Murray, who is now 4-1 lifetime against del Potro, fired 16 aces in the match and won 67 per cent of second serve points compared to del Potro's 11 aces and 48 per cent. 

The 22-year-old Scot became the first player to post 50 match wins this season (50-7), and also joined Nadal as title leaders after lifting his fifth ATP World Tour trophy in 2009. He also titled at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha (d. Roddick), the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam (d. Nadal), the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami (d. Djokovic) and the AEGON Championships in London (d. Blake). He improved to 13-6 lifetime in finals (4-1 in ATP World Tour Masters 1000) by winning five ATP World Tour titles for the second year in a row.

He said about his prospects for the remainder of the summer swing: "I feel like I've got a good chance of doing well at the US Open, but each week is a different week, and I'm not going to get too far ahead of myself. I'll just focus on Cincinnati."

Murray will be the first player other than Federer and Nadal, who both lost in the Rogers Cup quarter-finals on Friday, to rank No. 2 since Lleyton Hewitt on 18 July 2005. Already the highest-ranked Briton in ATP history, Murray will be the 12th player in the history of the ATP Rankings (since 1973) to reach No. 2 with a 585-point advantage over No. 3 Rafael Nadal’s total haul of 8,665 points.

He compared his two accomplishments in Montreal: "I've won a couple of Masters [1000 tournaments] now, so it still feels great, but the No. 2 - maybe because it's something different - that means maybe a little bit more, but winning a tournament here is still great."

World No. 6 Del Potro, who had won 10 straight matches coming into the final, was attempting to earn his third ATP World Tour title of the season and second in as many weeks after defeating Roddick last Sunday in Washington. The 20 year old fell to a 6-2 mark in ATP World Tour finals and a 42-11 season match record.

Despite the loss, del Potro was pleased with his effort in Montreal: “I never play a final in Masters, and the crowd and this tournament and everything, it's so good for me and for my future. I'm very happy to be in the final. I lost, but I'm happy. I don't have to think in the past and now see the future.” 

Del Potro had emerged as a serious contender last summer, when he won his first four ATP World Tour titles in successive tournament appearances at Stuttgart, Kitzbuhel, Los Angeles and Washington. He missed the summer’s two ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tennis tournaments, not ranked high enough at the time of entry, and extended his winning streak to 23 straight matches going into the US Open quarter-finals before losing to Murray.

The two players now head to next week’s Western & Southern Financial Group Masters, an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 hard-court tournament in Cincinnati, where they are in the same quarter of the draw. Murray won the title last year in Cincinnati with victory over Novak Djokovic in the final.

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