Murray Claims 14th Masters 1000 Crown In Paris
One day after securing the World No. 1 position in the Emirates ATP Rankings, Andy Murray added another first to his growing resume, defeating John Isner for his maiden title at the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris. Murray prevailed 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-4 in a thrilling two-hour and 18-minute final.
Murray claimed his eighth tour-level crown of the year and 43rd in total. He notched a 14th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title and joins Tim Henman (2003) and Greg Rusedski (1998) as British winners in Paris.
"I'm happy that I managed to get there," said Murray. "I was pleased. I felt really nervous before the match and I didn't feel flat or anything like that, which that was the most pleasing thing about today for me.
"It's great to win, but sometimes after you achieve something big or something that you maybe didn't expect, it can be quite easy to have a letdown and feel a little bit flat. I felt really nervous before the match today and I was happy about that."
The contrast of styles between the big-hitting Isner and relentless Murray was on full display on a Sunday afternoon in Paris-Bercy. Isner's mammoth serve has failed to dent Murray's defensive armour in their previous encounters and the new No. 1 looked to continue the trend. Looking to maintain an aggressive stance, Murray escaped a 30/0 deficit at 3-2, forcing a pair of backhand volley errors en route to breaking for a 4-2 lead.
Murray did well to erase two break points in the next game, bringing his total to 35 of 36 saved in their eight meetings. Isner would earn multiple winners with his inside-out forehand, but was unable to put together a consistent run. With Murray serving for the opener at 5-3, Isner rifled a backhand return into the corner, which the Scot replied with a majestic flick half-volley winner from the baseline. He would take a one-set lead in 35 minutes.
Isner served at 80 per cent in the first set, but it was Murray who came up clutch in the pressure moments. They remained on serve through seven games in the second, before Isner raced to a 0/40 lead at 4-3 with an injection of variety in his game. An effective mid-rally drop shot pulled Murray out of position and two strong returns gave the American a trio of break points. But Murray would turn aside them all and one more later in the game, bringing his total to a staggering 39 of 40 saved in their series.
Despite being unable to break Murray's serve, Isner forced a decider behind a perfectly executed second set tie-break. A Murray double fault at 2/3 gave the 6'10" American the decisive mini-break and he would fire a forehand winner to clinch the set. Isner struck 21 winners and won 16 of 22 net points in the second.
In the decider, Isner did well to save break points at 30/40 in both his first and second service games and he would move to within two points of serving for the title, pressuring the Murray serve to deuce in the ninth game. But the second seed would have the last word, jumping to 4-5 0/30 with Isner serving to stay in the match. He would convert his first match point with a dipping backhand that his net-charging opponent was unable to handle, extending his overall winning streak to 19 straight matches.
Murray has now won seven of the nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events...
Murray's Masters 1000 Haul
||Champion (2009, '13)
||SF (2009, '11, '16)
||Champion (2009, '10, '15)
||Champion (2008, '11)
||Champion (2010, '11, '16)
Murray is undefeated in eight FedEx ATP Head2Head encounters with Isner. This year, the 29 year old also prevailed in the Round of 16 at Roland Garros and two weeks ago in the Vienna quarter-finals. The No. 1 player in Emirates ATP Race To London will turn to the final event of the 2016 season, looking to lift the trophy on home soil at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. In addition to 1,000 points, he earns €746,550 in prize money.
Isner was trying to add a first Masters 1000 crown to his growing trophy case, falling to 0-3 in finals at the elite level. The 2016 aces champion will finish as the top American for the fifth straight year and in the Top 20 for a seventh consecutive season, rising to No. 19 by reaching the Paris final. The last American to win at the indoor tournament was Andre Agassi in 1999 and the last to win a Masters 1000 title was Andy Roddick in Miami in 2010.
"I knew I had to bring it today if I wanted any chance, because not often do you get to a stage in a tournament like this against a guy like that," said Isner. "I certainly did a lot of very good things out there. I thought I have given Andy a few tough tussles throughout our careers. I have never won, but that's why he's right now the greatest player in the world.
"It's a good week for me. It's definitely disappointing. I certainly wasn't happy to just be there today, getting to the final, I wasn't happy about that. I wanted to win, and I expected to win. I just fell a little bit short."