Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Murray wins the best final nobody ever saw

Defeats Ferrer just after TV cuts away

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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. -- As a dramatic men's final at the Sony Open neared its conclusion in a winner-take-all tiebreaker, Andy Murray waged a 28-shot exchange with David Ferrer, who was left so exhausted by the rally he crumpled to the court.

CBS viewers missed it. They also missed seeing Murray accept the trophy after he erased a championship point Sunday and rallied past Ferrer 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (1).

An 11:30 a.m. start on Easter turned out not to be early enough for CBS. The network cut away when the final went to the tiebreaker, switching to the tipoff of the NCAA tournament game between Michigan and Florida.

"It's obviously a shame that people didn't get to see the end of what I think was a pretty exciting match," Murray said. "But that's the way it goes sometimes."

Tennis Channel televised the end of the match, and CBS later showed a replay of match point.

"We stayed with tennis as long as we could," a CBS spokeswoman said.

The final was filled with grinding baseline rallies, including at least a dozen of more than 20 strokes and one lasting 34. At 2 hours, 45 minutes, the match was the longest of the men's tournament, and the end ran a few minutes past the scheduled start of Michigan-Florida.

Sony Open tournament director Adam Barrett said CBS officials had a commitment to show basketball.

"They stayed with our match for as long as possible, forgoing their pre-NCAA tournament coverage and delaying the start of the Michigan-Florida tipoff in an attempt to complete its broadcast of the match," Barrett said in a statement. "Although we wish the match could have been shown in its entirety, we understand that these situations do arise."

Coincidentally, the Sony Open's contract with CBS expires this year. The tournament does not yet have a signed TV deal for 2014.

While the basketball game turned out to be lopsided, with Michigan winning 79-59, the tennis couldn't have been closer. Murray became the first Key Biscayne men's champion to save a championship point.

One point from defeat in the last set, the Scotsman skipped a forehand off the baseline to stay in the match. Ferrer appealed the call but lost, and he battled leg cramps in the tiebreaker.

Murray also won the title in 2009.

He made a breakthrough last year by winning an Olympic gold medal and his first Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open. He'll now move ahead of Federer to No. 2 in the rankings behind Djokovic.

The No. 3-seeded Ferrer, who was seeking the biggest title of his career, fell to 0-13 against top-five players in finals. Spaniards are 0-6 in the Key Biscayne men's final, with Nadal losing three of those matches.

But Murray sang the praises of Ferrer, a frequent practice partner.

"He's one of the best players in the world," Murray said. "Every time I play against him, people expect me to win. I say it's so tough against him. He has a great attitude and is a great fighter."

Ferrer limped through the final two points. When Murray hit a return winner for the victory, he quickly dropped his racket, eager to call it a day. The two finalists then met at the net to trade weary pats on the back.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 1, 2013 C12

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