Novak Djokovic’s remarkable winning streak ended with a grimace, stopped
by a sore shoulder that forced him to retire in the second set on
Sunday and gave Andy Murray the Cincinnati Masters crown.
It was the Serb’s first bad moment in his nearly flawless season.
had won 16 consecutive matches since his only loss of the season, in
the French Open semi-finals against Roger Federer on June 3.
winning streak – and undefeated hardcourt run – has taken its toll, one
that puts a new spin on the US Open starting next Monday in New York.
Djokovic talked about feeling exhausted in Cincinnati, coming off his record fifth Masters series title in Montreal last week.
said his serving shoulder had bothered him for about the past 10 days,
but he’d been able to manage the soreness and keep winning.
On Sunday, he couldn’t go on.
is no good loss, that’s for sure,” said Djokovic, now 57-2 for the
season. “The good thing is there’s a week, eight days to the start of
“I’m confident I can recover and be ready for the US Open.”
was completely off his game against the fourth-seeded Murray, who won
the first set 6-4 and was ahead 3-0 in the second when Djokovic decided
just before the rain came that he couldn’t continue.
Djokovic had his shoulder treated after he lost the first set, grimacing at one point.
With his serve registering only in double-digits and his forehand limited by the pain, Djokovic realised he couldn’t compete.
He said he would have retired even if the rain had temporarily stopped the match.
“I cannot beat a player like Murray today with one stroke,” he said.
was Murray’s second title this season. The 24-year-old Scotsman also
won at the Queen’s Club. He lost his other final match to Djokovic at
the Australian Open.
Murray was more rested than his opponent, though not by choice.
lost in the opening round in Montreal a week ago, giving him unwanted
time to relax and work on his game. The break seemed to help – he didn’t
lose a set all week in Cincinnati.
“I had five or six days to
get ready here,” said Murray, who won his first Masters series
championship in Cincinnati in 2008. “I’ve always played well on this
Djokovic made 20 unforced errors in the first set, which
ended when he dumped a routine forehand into the net. Djokovic squatted
in disappointment, then went to his chair and took a timeout to have a
trainer stretch his right arm and shoulder.
When the trainer pushed on the side of his rotator cuff with his thumb, Djokovic grimaced.
broke him again to start the second set, an indication the shoulder
wasn’t going to get better. Djokovic started protecting the shoulder on
his follow through.
When Murray left him with an easy volley into
an open court, Djokovic couldn’t get anything on his overhead return,
smacking it weakly toward the net. That point gave Murray a 3-0 lead and
forced Djokovic to accept that he wasn’t going to get a chance to keep
his winning streak going.
The health of his shoulder will become an overriding question heading into the US Open.
Nadal is the defending champion and he’s also got some physical issues –
burned fingertips on his right hand that bothered him in Cincinnati.