Andy Murray today inflicted a second defeat of the season on world number one Novak Djokovic to claim 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 when trailing 6-4 3-0.
The reason for Djokovic's withdrawal was initially unclear although he had received treatment at the end of the first set for an upper arm problem.
How the contest ended will be a major worry for Djokovic with the US Open - the final major of the year - getting under way in eight days' time.
For Murray, however, it is a timely boost after an inconsistent season which has seen him reach the final of the Australian Open - where he lost to Djokovic, the semis at the French Open and Wimbledon, but also lose to the likes of Donald Young, Alex Bogomolov Jr, Thomaz Bellucci and, most recently, Kevin Anderson.
But he will head to New York knowing he will again be among the contenders as he attempts to win a maiden grand slam title.
How much emphasis he places on this win is difficult to gauge, though, such was Djokovic's lethargic display.
Murray was by far the more consistent player in the opening set as Djokovic struggled to reach the performance level which has enabled him to sweep all before him in a remarkable 2011.
The Serbian has won nine titles this year, including his second and third grand slam titles of his career, in Melbourne and Wimbledon.
But his exertions over the last eight months seemed to affect him from the outset in the searing heat in Cincinnati as Murray swiftly assumed control by breaking 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 after his opponent had struggled to control a low volley.
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, especially with a storm around the corner, and he offered his hand shortly before the heavens opened. PAReuse content