Miami Men's Final: March Madness Overtakes Ferrer, CBS
David Ferrer beat himself in the Sony Open final against Andy Murray, succumbing to heat, humidity, cramps, and the US Open and Olympic champ in a third set tiebreak that didn't have to be.
Ferrer suffered a brain fart during championship point, 5-4, against Murray's serve. He challenged a deep baseline shot of Murray's, rather than play the point out. A video review showed the call was good, the ball having clipped the back of the line. Murray held and went on demolish a now-mentally as well as physically broken Ferrer for a 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(1) victory.
"The ball, it was really close. I saw out, and, you know, really close," said Ferrer.
Asked if he had any second thoughts, Ferrer responded with an outpouring of Tennis Hate.
"I don't want to think nothing. I chose my decision in that moment. It's a bad moment now. I don't want to think anymore about that. I want to forget, the more faster as possible."
That's tennis. The moment you drop your focus, the moment you let fear and panic and what my Saintly Pro, Al Johnson, calls "hysteria" to creep into your game brain, you turn the match over to your Worthy Opponent.
You can see the moment for yourself -- and the look on a cramping Ferrer's face as he hopes against hope that he's right and doesn't have to play anymore -- starting at 3:15 in these video highlights:
It was the second time Murray hoisted the trophy at Crandon Park, and his ninth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown (Ferrer only has one, last year's Paris title). With the win, he moves past Roger Federer to World Number 2, behind Novak Djokovic.
"It was a brutal, brutal match today," said Murray. "Both of us were kind of on our last legs. Good it wasn't a best of five set match, because I don't know how the last few sets would have ended up."
The Gloomy Scot conceded that his win wasn't pretty.
"I don't think either of us played our best tennis. There was a lot of breaks and ups and downs, quite a lot of mistakes from both of us. But what I did do was fight hard, you know, showed good mental strength to get through that match, because it easily could have slipped away from me."
That's for sure. Sports Illustrated described it as a "topsy-turvy" match:
For two and a half sets, this was a tough match to watch or enjoy. Ferrer raced out to a 5-0 lead by playing some aggressive but efficient tennis, while Murray sprayed 19 unforced errors to Ferrer’s eight and struggled to find his rhythm.
Once Murray cleaned up his game in the second set, it was Ferrer who began to miss the mark, matching Murray’s numbers with 19 unforced to let the Scot back into the match. Any hopes that the third set would see the two finally find their form and play well at the same time were dashed when the two traded breaks for six straight games before Ferrer finally stopped the streak to hold to 4-3.
And it only got worse as both players started cramping and sucking wind in the Florida sun. But the match got more interesting and enthralling, too, feeling just a little bit like the 5-set, second round 2006 US Open epic battle between Andre Agassi and Marcos Baghdatis.
As Andre wrote about that match in his autobiography, Open, "This will no longer be tennis, but a raw test of wills. No more jabs, no more feints, no more footwork. Nothing but roundhouses and haymakers."
Just as Murray and Ferrer moved into a deciding third set tiebreaker, CBS hit fans with a haymaker of its own. They switched to the tipoff of the NCAA tournament game between Michigan and Florida. The tipoff, Haters! They couldn't even wait ten minutes and join the college hoops game in progress.
Tennis Channel picked up the tie-break after the first point, after airing what seemed an endless, and endlessly annoying, Discover Card commercial. "We treat you like you treat you" was the slogan. Well, then, I must not be treating myself well enough to see a tiebreaker the way it's played -- uninterrupted.
Tennis fans howled. "CBS, YOU SUCK!" was a common Tweet.
While we're on the subject of Tweets, the best one was from retired tennis great Andy Roddick: "I've seen everything now.... David ferrer cramping. I thought they would find Hoffa first."
Check out this ATP video of Murray's "victory lap." It's more like a victory "wobble." He can barely lift his left leg over a bench in the locker room to pose for photos with his trophy. He ooks like he's on Omaha Beach, not Miami Beach, as he staggers around in the sand for another photo op. (He's one of the fittest guys on the tour, but Andy Murray shirtless does not do it for me. This guy shirtless does....)