World No. 4 Andy Murray won the Cincinnati Masters title for the second time on Sunday as world No. 1 Novak Djokovic retired injured while trailing 6-4, 3-0.
Djokovic conceded just his second defeat of the season against 57 victories.
He was hindered during the match by a sore right shoulder, a problem Djokovic had alluded to after his abbreviated victory over a similarly ailing Tomas Berdych in the semi-finals on Saturday.
“Obviously, when he started to slow down his serve toward the end of the first set it was going to be tough for him,” said Murray, who also won in Cincinnati in 2008. “Sometimes things can warm up when you play, sometimes they get worse. I just tried to stay focused.”
Djokovic, who said wear and tear was to be expected for a player going deep into tournaments week after week, admitted that his shoulder felt worse than it had earlier in the week, but he insisted he would be ready for the start of the US Open next week.
“The good thing is that there is a week, eight days to the start of the US Open. So I think that’s enough time for me to get ready,” Djokovic said.
Murray made the most of Djokovic’s sluggish start, opening the match with a service break.
Djokovic, who claimed a record fifth Masters title of the season last week in Montreal, managed to break back to knot the set at 3-3.
Murray broke back immediately, punctuating a baseline rally with a volley winner that left Djokovic looking baffled.
Djokovic’s serve continued to slow and after he pitched a forehand into the net on set point, he called for medical treatment, grimacing as the trainer manipulated his shoulder.
It was not enough and Djokovic, barely able to reach for an overhead, called it a day shortly before a summer rainstorm swept across the court.
“I really tried,” Djokovic said. “Didn’t make sense for me to continue.”
Djokovic, who said he was hindered on his serve and his forehand — particularly at full stretch — said he just did not have the weapons to beat Murray.
“I could have maybe played another couple of games, but what for?” he said. “I cannot beat a player like Murray today with one stroke. Of course, I’m not saying if I was 100 percent that I would certainly win because Andy is a great player, but I am sure that we will have a better match.”
Murray said he would have liked that.
“Not the way I wanted it to happen,” Murray said of becoming just the second man to beat Djokovic this year.
The Serbian had won 16 straight matches since that lone defeat, to Roger Federer in the French Open semi-finals on June 3.
“I had a chance, served for the match against him in Rome and lost — that was a tough one for me. It’s nice to win, but I’d rather beat him in three weeks’ time,” Murray said.