Another grand slam final, another loss to Novak Djokovic – no matter how used to the process Andy Murray has become, it does not make it any easier.
After playing some of the best tennis of his career on any surface in the past few weeks – and playing by far the best clay court tennis of his life – the loss was all but unbearable.
He had almost lost in the first round two weeks ago and then built round by round to reach his first Roland Garros final. And then he had to play that man Djokovic again.
“I’m very disappointed,” he said. “You know, from 13 days ago, I maybe would have signed up to have been in this position. I was struggling.
“I was a couple of points from going out of the tournament in the first round. But then when you get there [to the final] obviously you want to win. I didn’t do that today. Right now I’m very disappointed.”
The improvements he has made on clay, the tricky red stuff that used to be regarded as his weakest surface, were not enough to derail Djokovic in his bid to win a first French Open title and complete the non-calendar Grand Slam.
Against him, obviously if you’re letting the best player control points, you know, that’s tough. I wasn’t able to dictate enough points after the beginning of the match
Murray did well at times but Djokovic did better. Much better.
“At points I did well,” Murray said. “Not necessarily the whole match. He did play extremely well. Gave me very few errors. Started hitting the ball a bit close to the lines and I was sort of dropping a bit far back behind the baseline. Against him, obviously if you’re letting the best players control points, you know, that’s tough.
“I wasn’t able to dictate enough points after the beginning of the match and that made it tough.”
Murray was clearly the better player at the start of the match as Djokovic, by his own admission, was poleaxed by nerves. But when a break-point chance at the start of the second set evaded Murray, the momentum of the match changed: Djokovic relaxed and moved into top gear.
“After that, in the second set he started to free up a little bit more and got the break immediately after that,” Murray said. “He probably started hitting the ball a little bit better.
“But there’s always changes in momentum and ups and downs throughout the best of five set matches.
“Unfortunately, I couldn’t capitalise on that chance. Maybe that would have changed things a little bit.”
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