Andy Murray last night enjoyed the “perfect preparation” for the US Open after inflicting a second defeat of the season on world number one Novak Djokovic to clinch the Western & Southern Open crown in Cincinnati.
The Scot was always in control against a fatigued Djokovic, whose record for the season dropped to 57-2 when he was forced to retire while trailing 6-4 3-0 due to a shoulder injury.
The problem could have serious ramifications for Djokovic as he attempts to land his third grand slam crown of 2011 at the US Open — which starts next Monday — but Murray heads to New York in buoyant mood after claiming his second title in what has been an up-and-down year.
“It was good,” he said afterwards. “I thought the standard towards the end of the first set was very good, a lot of long rallies.
“He started off a little bit slow, made quite a few mistakes early on but the way I ended it was the perfect preparation for the US Open.”
Murray's previous tournament success in Cincinnati preceded his best run in New York, in 2008, when he reached the final before losing to Roger Federer.
And the Scot is hoping for a similarly good run this year after admitting the conditions in Cincinnati were almost identical to those he will encounter in the Big Apple.
He said: “This court is very similar to the one in New York and it's good to know I am playing well here in similar conditions and I hope I am going to have a good one.”
Murray had his foot on the pedal from the off, breaking Djokovic in the opening game.
Djokovic briefly sparkled, hitting back to level at 3-3, but world number four Murray simply upped the tempo to restore his advantage by breaking for a 4-3 lead after a lengthy exchange which culminated in a forehand winner from mid-court.
The Scot duly served it out to claim the set before Djokovic had to call for the trainer and doctor.
And it was quickly apparent the end was near when Murray broke Djokovic twice to establish a 3-0 second-set advantage.
Djokovic was in no mood to hang around and offered his hand shortly before the heavens opened.
How much emphasis Murray places on this win is difficult to gauge such was Djokovic's lethargic display.
“I got broken quite a few times this week,” Murray said. “I served better as the week went on.
“Also physically I need to do some work and keep working hard before the start of the US Open.”
Djokovic was philosophical in defeat and conceded the injury meant he stood little chance.
The Serbian said: “I just could not serve. I served an average 90 miles per hour the first serve, and I could not play forehands.
“There is no good loss. But there is a week before the start of the US Open. So I think that's enough time for me to get ready.”