Andy Murray, on his 29th birthday, took full advantage of a very kind draw at the 2016 Rome Masters as he concluded the event on Sunday with a title. The win gives him just his third career title on the clay-court surface, all of which have been won in the last two seasons. Novak Djokovic, the runner-up in the event, missed an opportunity to improve his tally of Masters Series titles, but he still holds the record for most won. Both players will now be idle on tour until the first round of the 2016 French Open, a tournament that starts in one week’s time.
The final will surely be remembered for the fact that it was won by Murray, a player better known for hard-court titles at the Masters Series level. However, the championship match might also be remembered for the weather problems. At numerous points in the match, Djokovic called for the chair umpire to stop play as he and Murray battled conditions that fans with umbrellas tried to protect themselves from.
“Somebody has to get hurt,” Djokovic claimed in a remark directed toward the chair umpire. The Serb seemed to be worried about the possibility of slipping on one of the sidelines as he referenced his frustrations with the umpire’s decision not to stop play. At another point, a perplexed Djokovic claimed that “It was raining for an hour” as he expressed clear concern with the condition of the court.
However, Murray had far fewer qualms which is the way tennis seems to work: whoever has momentum doesn’t seem to mind a sprinkle while the trailer in the match claims that everything is unfair. At the end of it now, Murray has a title behind a very comfortable draw. He had Lucas Pouille in the semifinals, David Goffin in the quarters, and Jeremy Chardy in the round of 16. Looking back at his draw, Djokovic was the only solid French Open contender that Murray had to contend with this week. The Serb, on the other hand, had late-round matches against Rafael Nadal and Kei Nishikori, two players that both extended Djokovic to deep sets that may have served to fatigue the World No. 1 ahead of the final.
Heading into the French Open, the tournament is starting to shape up as a showdown between Djokovic and Murray. While Nadal won the Monte-Carlo Masters a few weeks ago, since then the Spaniard has lost to both Murray and Djokovic in Madrid and Rome respectively. Defending champion Stan Wawrinka doesn’t seem to be near his best tennis at this point, and the same could be said of Roger Federer, the champion from 2009.
If Djokovic can win the French Open title, then he would complete the career Grand Slam, having already won the Aussie, the US Open, and Wimbledon – each multiple times. If Murray was to win the French Open this year, then he would only need a title at the Aussie to complete the same achievement.
There are a couple low-level tour events to be played this upcoming week ahead of the French Open. Dominic Thiem headlines ATP Nice in southern France while Stan Wawrinka is the top seed in Geneva, Switzerland. French Open quallies also start soon with the 2016 French Open’s main draw to start next Sunday and the final scheduled for June 5th.