Beats Ferrer 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (1) in the final

For the first time in 9.5 years, there is no Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal in the top two of the ATP Men’s World Rankings. While Serena Williams dominates the WTA circuit at her own will and lazy time, with gaps of five years between her matter-of-fact ascents, the men’s circuit has been way more competitive.

With Andy Murray’s latest Masters title (9th of his career) at Miami on Sunday- where he saved a match point in a scrappy poor match against perennial underdog Ferrer- the Scot remains the only player amongst the BIG FOUR to have no climbed to the top of the rankings. With a lukewarm start to the year- another Slam Final loss to Djokovic at Melbourne and just 1 title to show at Brisbane- Murray could have been forgiven for looking behind him and watching Nadal storm back up the rankings hot on his heels, rather than in front with Federer sitting pretty at no. 2 for more than 6 months now.

But as luck would have it, Federer has slipped considerably from his 2012 form, and has allowed Andy Murray to regain no. 2 for the first time since 2009. Back then, Nadal was no. 1 in the world- now, it is Djokovic. But the Serb has been showing signs of wilting in the American hardcourt masters season- ahead of his rival Nadal’s clay season- even losing to veteran Tommy Haas at Miami. Murray could have fancied his chances to rise to the top if it was any other time of the year. But with the European Claycourt season ready to begin (culminating in Murray’s least favorite Slam at Roland Garros), and with Djokovic having lesser titles to defend in the second half of the year- it will be Murray who will be under pressure from Nadal 2.0.This was Murray’s first Masters title since the Shanghai Masters in 2011, and his 26th final tour-level win overall. He was also the seventh player to win multiple titles at Miami, after last winning here in 2009.

Ferrer, meanwhile, dropped to 0-13 against top 5 players in tour level finals- a record that clearly suggests that he should settle for being the best of the rest. Drama ensued in the final, though, with Ferrer even holding match point and challenging Murray’s forehand- which happened to be on the line, stopping play in the process. A few inches wider and Ferrer would have had only his second Masters title of his long career- after Paris last year.

But it was not to be, and Andy Murray– the new world no. 2- could, in all likelihood, be titleless till June, when the grasscourt season begins at Queens. Unless he, like Nadal, decides to adapt his game and prove that he has it in him to win a title on Clay- something that has eluded him for most of his career.

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