Andy Murray loses out to Novak Djokovic in Miami Open final
Andy Murray was unable to end his losing run against Novak Djokovic as the world number one walked off with a second successive Miami Open title after a fierce tussle on Sunday.
The Briton had lost his last six matches against the world number one and it looked to be going against him again when he dropped the opening set at Crandon Park on a tie-break.
Third seed Murray battled back valiantly to snatch the second set and take the match into a decider, only for his game to desert him as Djokovic claimed a 7-6 (7/3) 4-6 6-0 victory after almost three hours on court.
Murray was looking to wrestle back the title he won in 2013 and applied pressure from the start, earning his first break point in the opening game but wasting it with a forehand into the net.
However, another opportunity came along on Djokovic's next service game and this time Murray moved up a gear, forcing his opponent out wide before finishing him off with an overhead smash.
The advantage was wiped out immediately, though, with Murray firing long to gift the world number one a break back.
The Briton refused to give in and his persistence, helped by some well-struck balls, paid off in the seventh game when an error from Djokovic once more put Murray a break up.
Yet again he was unable to defend his advantage as Djokovic snatched the break back, and the pair continued to slog it out to eventually usher in the tie-break.
This time Murray's game let him down badly, as two poor forehands and a pair of sloppy shots into the net allowed Djokovic to wrap up the set with remarkable ease.
It had taken well over an hour to decide the opener and it was no surprise energy levels dropped in the second as the heat began to take its toll.
Murray nevertheless found something in reserve to fight off two break points in the third game before squandering one of his own on Djokovic's serve as the set threatened to reach an impasse.
Frustration crept in for both players at times as they fought to gain the upper hand but there was still plenty to keep the crowd entertained despite the obvious fatigue on court.
And it was Murray who seized the chance as the match passed the two-hour mark.
With Djokovic serving to stay in the set, two errors from the Serbian followed by a lovely forehand down the line from his opponent set the world number four up with three set points. And Murray hammered home his advantage with a fierce backhand return to take the match into a final set.
It looked like Murray held the edge but his momentum quickly went at the start of the third, with Djokovic breaking twice to drain the last dregs of energy from his opponent.
It proved a disappointing climax to an enthralling match, with Murray broken again before Djokovic served out successfully for his fifth Miami title.
It was a second defeat to Djokovic in as many weeks for Murray, who was also beaten by the Australian Open champion in straight sets in Indian Wells.
However, although he admitted tiredness got the better of him on this occasion, the Scot is confident he is catching up on his rival.
He said in the post-match presentation: "It's been a good start to the year for me and I've made progress from where I was at this stage last year.
"I'm not quite there with Novak yet but I feel like I'm getting a little bit closer. I just need to keep working hard and hopefully that will come.
"I'm sorry I couldn't make more of a fight of it in the third set. I was trying but my legs were tired and I couldn't quite finish hard enough.
"But Miami is a very special place for me, I always enjoy coming back so I'm sorry I couldn't quite get the job done in the final but I'll be back next year and try one more time."
Djokovic also spoke of the enjoyment he got from playing in Miami, saying: "This is truly one of the better tournaments on the tour that we have. The best players in the world are participating in this event and it's truly a very special place for tennis.
"Hopefully we're going to have many more great years to come."
Murray later Tweeted: "Congrats to Novak on a great start to the year.. However this egg today wasn't appreciated on easter".