Murray Joins '40 Titles Club' With Beijing Crown
Andy Murray completed a ruthless China Open campaign with a 6-4, 7-6(2) triumph over Grigor Dimitrov in Sunday's final. Victory puts the World No. 2, who did not drop a set all week, in elite company as just the 16th member of the '40 Titles Club' in the Open Era.
Murray lifted his fifth trophy in a season for the first time since 2011, adding to titles won at Wimbledon, the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Rome, the Aegon Championships on the grass of The Queen's Club and the Rio Olympics.
With an additional 500 points in his growing haul in the Emirates ATP Race To London, Murray is drawing closer to World No. 1 Novak Djokovic for the year-end top spot. He moved to 1,555 points behind the Serbian, with plenty up for grabs at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events in Shanghai and Paris and Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
"It was probably my best match of the week," said Murray, who dropped just eight points on his first serve. "But my second serve tonight was probably the best part of my game. A lot of the unreturned serves came off second serves. Considering the conditions were fairly cold, I was still serving over a hundred miles an hour on some second serves. I felt using good variation on that shot, so I didn't give him a chance to really attack me there and that was probably the thing that I did best tonight."
Active '40 Titles Club' Members
The Scot made an immediate statement in breaking Dimitrov to open the match. Two double faults in that game put the Bulgarian in early trouble and a sublime lunging backhand pass on the run from Murray set the tone. Murray goaded Dimitrov into striking 21 unforced errors in the opener, which he would grab on his first set point.
The top seed secured what appeared to be the decisive break for 3-2 in the second set. But with Murray serving for the championship at 5-4, Dimitrov won the longest point of the match (43 shots) and would suddenly break to love. Swinging freely with increased aggression from the baseline, a run of eleven consecutive points turned the tide in Dimitrov's favour.
"In that game he started slicing a lot of backhands," Murray reflected. "It threw me off my rhythm a little bit."
The set would be decided in a tie-break and Murray refused to suffer another hiccup, earning an immediate mini-break and streaking to the finish line after one hour and 57 minutes.
Murray completed the trifecta on Chinese soil with the ATP World Tour 500 crown, having previously won at the 250 event in Shenzhen in 2014 and the Shanghai Rolex Masters in both 2010 & '11. He improved to 8-3 in the FedEx ATP Head2Head against Dimitrov, moving to 2-1 this year.
Dimitrov, meanwhile, was bidding for his first ATP World Tour crown since 2014, when he won at The Queen's Club. He fell to 0-3 in finals this year. The Bulgarian is up to No. 15 in the Emirates ATP Race To London with 1,900 points, having registered his first win over second seed Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals. He takes home $311,650 in prize money.
"I think the past couple of times, Andy has been playing really well against me," said Dimitrov. "I didn't start my match the best way possible. I got broken right away in the first game. There are very different conditions today, pretty chilly. I think I just didn't have enough time to adjust. I think the previous two matches played like it was indoors.
"Today was just different. Andy's pretty much the greatest player this year. He's been winning a lot and has a lot of confidence. He obviously knows how to move well on the court. All the credit to him.
"I personally think I didn't play a good enough match to rally with him throughout. Maybe the second set was a little bit better. If the match would have gone to the third set, I'm not sure that I could have done things differently. But I'll try to take the positive side of the week."