WATCH: When birthday boy and new dad Andy Murray conquered a frustrated Novak Djokovic in Rome
The year 2016 was a memorable season for Andy Murray and one of his standout moments of the campaign – and there were many – came at the Italian Open when he defeated Novak Djokovic in the final.
Murray started the year by finishing runner-up to Djokovic in the Australian Open and was also second best to the Serbian at the Madrid Open at the beginning of May.
In between his busy professional schedule, Murray also became a first-time father as his wife, Kim, gave birth to their daughter Sophia at the beginning of February.
And being a father certainly helped to inspire him before he went onto court on May 15 – the day he turned 29 – as he admitted after the match: “The last thing I looked at before I went on court today was a picture of my daughter.
“I feel like that’s what I’m playing for now, so that in a few years hopefully she can be proud of what I have achieved.”
There is no doubt that Sophia will be proud of what her father achieved on his birthday as he went all the way at Foro Italico, defeating Djokovic 6-3, 6-3 to lift the Italian Open trophy for the first time – and to date only time.
Murray started the match having lost all his previous encounters on clay against Djokovic, but he produced a performance of note as he broke once in the first set and twice in the second.
Match point came at 15-40 in game nine and the Scot wasted no time as he wrapped up the match.
“Each time I go up against him [Djokovic], I know I have to play a great match to win,” Murray said.
“I’ve had great preparation now going into the French Open. I have played against Rafa [Nadal] a couple of times, Novak a couple of times. You know, not won all of the matches, but competed extremely well even in the ones I have lost.
“[I’m] going to Roland Garros with a lot of confidence. Over best of five, as well, takes a little bit more physical and mental strength.
“But I feel like I’m on the right track. So hopefully I can have a good run there.”
It was a frustrating afternoon for Djokovic as he lost his temper two games before the end as he was unimpressed with the surface.
The world No 1 asked chair umpire Damian Steiner to suspend play “for five minutes” so that the court could be cleaned, but the request was denied.
“I don’t want to play any more!” Djokovic shouted at Steiner. “I asked not to play! Wait! There are no consequences on the court, right? The lines are not slippery? Somebody has to get hurt before you do something. I hurt my ankle three times in the last three games and you’re ignoring that fact completely!”
Steiner stood firm and replied: “I think the court is playable. I keep saying the court is ready to play.”
Djokovic, of course, got his revenge a few weeks later as he beat Murray in the French Open final, but then went on to win Wimbledon and gold in the singles at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
He also won the Paris Masters and ATP Finals with his success in London helping him to finish the year as world No 1.
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