KEY BISCAYNE (AP) — Novak Djokovic earned his fifth Key Biscayne title Sunday, beating Andy Murray for the seventh straight time and showing superior stamina in the heat to win the Miami Open final 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-0.
The top-ranked Djokovic became the first man to complete the Indian Wells-Key Biscayne spring sweep three times. He beat Murray in the semifinals at Indian Wells and also in the Australian Open final Feb. 1 for his eighth Grand Slam title.
Murray will climb from fourth to third in the new rankings, but he has lost 12 consecutive matches to his biggest rivals — Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer — since winning Wimbledon in 2013.
Murray broke in the final game of the second set to even the match, but fatigue then became a factor on a sunny, 80-degree afternoon, and Djokovic was the fitter player down the stretch.
In the last set, Murray hit two weary backhands into the net to lose serve and fall behind 1-love. Two games later he saved five break points before dumping another backhand into the net to fall behind 3-love, and Djokovic easily closed it out.
Djokovic’s fresher legs at the end of the 2-hour, 47-minute match was especially impressive because Murray lives in Miami and is more accustomed to the South Florida heat.
The final matched two of the game’s best retrievers, and they waged a succession of long, entertaining rallies in the early going. Djokovic’s legs splayed as he skidded on the hardcourt digging out shots in the corners, and Murray hustled just as hard, closing one 35-stroke marathon with a backhand winner.
But the quality of play was patchy, and Djokovic’s victory would have been more straightforward had he not converted only five of 18 break-point chances. Both players blew overheads and easy volleys, and the bright sun bothered them at times.
With a 1 p.m. start, the players were looking directly into the sun at the north end of the court, defusing their serve from that side. The player with his back to the sun won the first 10 games, which included four service breaks. Djokovic broke the streak by holding into the sun for a 6-5 lead, and Murray matched the feat.
In the tiebreaker, Djokovic took a 4-0 lead with his back to the sun, and won the final two points on unforced errors by Murray.
As the angle of the sun changed, both players settled in on their serves and traded holds to 6-5 in the second set. Murray then came up with the shot of the match, blocking back a Djokovic overhead and landing it on the sideline for a winner.
Murray hit a return winner on the next point to break at love and even the match, but that was his last hurrah.
His consolation: He’s getting married Saturday in his hometown of Dunblane, Scotland.
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