Djokovic reaches Key Biscayne final
"It's his playground now, I guess," said a disappointed Mardy Fish after losing 6-3, 6-1 to Novak Djokovic — the year's only unbeaten player — in the semifinal of the Sony Ericsson Open at Key Biscayne.
Although the score suggests otherwise, Fish played a good match and might have played a better one had not a rain squall interrupted play for 52 minutes after five games of the first set. Djokovic did not start well and admitted afterward that he was troubled by the gusty, humid conditions.
"I came to the match not moving really well and was lucky not to go a break down," he said. "Then I came back from the locker after the break we had, and I felt different on court."
In clearer air and less wind, the Serb locked back into the rhythm that has seen him reach a run of 25 matches unbeaten since losing to Roger Federer at the ATP World Finals in London in November. That sort of streak builds a player's confidence to such a pitch that he can overcome most situations, and Fish knew that missing break point opportunities spelled doom against this opponent.
Fish, hitting the ball more fluently from the backcourt and seizing every opportunity to get in, had two break points before the rain and then, having lost his own serve on the resumption, struck back brilliantly to reach 15-40 on the Djokovic serve at 5-3. Novak knew it was a crucial moment. Fish's big, deep volley had driven the Serb into his backhand corner, but Fish elected to go back there with a second volley. Djokovic picked up the story of the point in press conference.
"I can't say I played that point well. It was just lucky that I read his intention with the drive volley. I stayed on the same side and I hit the ball as hard as I can through the middle and he put his volley out. As I said, you've got to have some luck as well in some moments."
Djokovic's return on that point was driven straight at Fish, who could do little more than defend himself with a volley played in front of his body, and it flew wide. From then on the Djokovic serve became the dominant factor in the match.
But it was frustrating for the man who has just become the top-ranked male player in America.
"It's extremely disappointing because, to be honest, I thought I played well," he said. "I'm down 6-3, 5-1 and I look at the scoreboard and he's only won, like, eight points more. That kind of tells you that I didn't win any of the big points. None of them."
Meanwhile, there was an amusing diversion in the media center as news started filtering through on Twitter that Andy Murray was going to appoint a new coach. The man himself said so on Twitter. Then came the news from the UK Press Association that the person was to be Ross Hutchins, Murray's best friend and doubles partner. The unlikelihood of that appointment did not seem to dawn on some sports desks in London, and one major newspaper asked its tennis correspondent for 800 words on the subject.
There might have been a few signs of concern among the more gullible sub-editors when Murray tweeted again. "I feel I need another 'Yes' man," he said.
Yes, folks, it's April 1 and the Scot, with a sense of humor that can be as dry as a martini, had made fools of them all. At this time of year, it helps to know what day it is.