Birthday boy Murray outclasses Djokovic to win in Rome


Andy Murray celebrated his birthday in style by beating his nemesis Novak Djokovic on clay for the first time to win his maiden Internazionali d'Italia title.

World number one Djokovic had won his previous four matches against Murray, including the Madrid Open final last Sunday, but the second seed triumphed 6-3 6-3 on his 29th birthday in Rome.

Murray was at his brilliant best as he prevented Djokovic from becoming the first tennis player in history to reach the $100,000,000 mark in prize money with a scintillating performance at the Foro Italico.

Briton Murray, playing his first tournament since splitting with coach Amelie Mauresmo, did not allow the 11-time grand slam champion a look-in as he saved all three break points and claimed only his second Masters 1000 title on clay.

Djokovic had been crowned champion in each of the last two years and four times in total in the Eternal City, but was unable to win a sixth title of 2016 as he was outplayed by the magnificent Scot, who will return to number two in the rankings on Monday.

The Serbian injured his ankle after hammering his racket against his foot in the first game of his win over epic semi-final against Kei Nishikori on Saturday and he was grimacing again when Murray went a break up at 3-1 in the rain.

Murray was wasteful when he had three chances to break in the second game, but drew first blood when his rival punched a backhand into the tramlines.

Indeed, Murray looked in a hurry to start his birthday celebrations, thumping a sublime backhand winner at 30-30 which prompted applause from Djokovic before firing down an ace to lead 5-2.

The two-time grand slam champion was clenching his fist after producing a rasping cross-court forehand and a deft drop shot to take the first set in clinical fashion.

Djokovic sensed the chance to hit back when he had a break point for a 2-0 lead in the second set, but lofted a lob beyond the baseline and Murray held with two booming aces.

The top seed vented his fury when Murray saved another two break points in his next service game and the Olympic champion went 3-2 up when he broke with a simple volley at the net.

Djokovic complained the court was too wet for play to continue, but Murray had no trouble keeping his feet as he stood firm on serve and claimed victory in spectacular fashion by racing wide and somehow coming up with a stunning backhand winner.