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Murray rages at umpire in Djokovic defeat

ESPN staff
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Djokovic beats Murray in straight sets

Defending champion Andy Murray's winning streak at Key Biscayne was ended in controversial circumstances as an erroneous call helped Novak Djokovic on his way to a 7-5 6-3 victory and a spot in the Miami Masters last four.

The point in question for Murray occurred at the start of the 12th game with him serving at 5-6. Djokovic charged forward to volley a short ball and hit it for a winner.

Murray argued - and TV replays confirmed - he should have be awarded the point because Djokovic's racquet was on the far side of the net when he hit the ball. Chair umpire Damian Steiner declined to change his call, and such rulings can't be appealed for video review.

Djokovic won the next three points to take the game and the set with an irritated Murray telling the umpire: "You're having a laugh, you can see it on the replay. He [Djokovic] said his racquet was over the net!"

"Look, it might be my mistake," Djokovic said. "I think I crossed the net with the racquet. I didn't touch the net. Maybe the rule is that you are not allowed to pass on his side with the racquet. I'm not sure. You tell me."

That is indeed the rule. After the match, Murray played down the incident. "I wasn't sure, from where I was standing, it was a very hard thing to see," he said.

"I knew it was close, so that's why I went and asked Novak, and he told me he was over the net. That was it.

"[The chair umpire] said, 'yes, he was over the net but he was in line with the net,' so I didn't really understand.

Andy Murray questioned umpire Damian Steiner over a controversial call © Getty Images
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"It maybe had a slight bearing on that game but I was still up a break in the second set."

The defeat sees Murray drop to number eight in the rankings - his lowest since August 2008, after failing to defend his Miami title.

"Obviously, that [umpire call] distracted him mentally, and after that he gave the set away," Djokovic said.

Djokovic had been applauded by the Miami crowd for his sportsmanship in the previous round after admitting a shot from Tommy Robredo - that had mistakenly been called out - clipped the baseline.

He had said then: "For me, it's something that is part of the sport, fair play. I expect everybody else to do the same. Of course, not everybody's the same, but for me, that's something that's normal. Just a normal, natural reaction."

Despite the defeat, Murray believes he is still on track following four months out after September's back surgery. He said: "If someone had told me after the surgery this is where I would be going into April, it wouldn't be too far from where I would have liked.

"My game is just about there. It's not far off. I had many opportunities today like 30-all games and love-30s on his serve, but I didn't serve so well when I went ahead in the second set.

"I would have liked to have done that better, but, I was hitting the ball better from the back of the court. I was playing aggressive. I was taking the ball early. I was trying to come forward a bit."

In their last meeting, Murray defeated Djokovic to become the first Brit to win the Wimbledon men's singles title since Fred Perry in 1936.

However, much has changed since that momentous day and Murray could not reproduce the same sort of form to continue his run in Miami.

Second seed Djokovic appeared to settle the quicker of the two in the heat as he forced the first real break opportunities in the fourth game. However, Murray held firm on the baseline to keep the match with serve.

Murray, who uses Crandon Park as a training base, was gifted an opportunity to move into a strong position at 5-5 but Djokovic served his way out of trouble on three occasions.

Then came Djokovic's controversial breakthrough in the 12th game, before Murray made three unforced errors to lose the set.

However, Murray rallied in the second and established a 3-2 lead with a crosscourt winner in the second.

Djokovic, though, claimed four consecutive games to seal victory and book his place in the semi-finals against Kei Nishikori - who sealed a shock win over Roger Federer.

Djokovic will continue his quest for a fourth Miami title - and second Indian Wells-Miami Masters double - of his career, while Murray will be left encouraged by his reaction from an injury scare against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and his recent split from coach Ivan Lendl.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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