Murray’s fighting spirit earns title

New world No 2 battles back from a set down to beat Del Potro and win Masters crown
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Andy Murray fought back brilliantly to beat the big-hitting Argentine Juan Martin del Potro in the final of the Rogers Cup in Montreal last night.

The Scot looked set for defeat after Del Potro took the opening set, the first Murray had lost all week. Del Potro continued to look formidable, and his heavy forehands were proving devastating, but his level dropped once Murray won the second set tie-break, and the man who will be confirmed as the new world No 2 this morning completed a 6-7, 7-6, 6-1 victory. It gave him a fifth title of 2009, matching Rafael Nadal for most tournament victories.

Twelve months ago there might have been tension between the pair, following an incident in Rome where Murray accused Del Potro of insulting his mother, Judy. However, they resolved their differences after Murray beat Del Potro in the US Open quarter-finals last September, so this was simply a showdown between two outstanding hard-court players, and it proved a memorable occasion.

Del Potro had knocked out Nadal in the quarter-finals, proving too strong for the Spaniard who was playing competitively for the first time since relinquishing his French Open title in Paris back in early June. He had then eliminated Andy Roddick in the last four, to stretch his winning streak to 10 matches, after winning in Washington DC last week.

Del Potro took the first set on a tie-break, after neither player dropped serve. He claimed a vital mini-break on the ninth point of the tie-break, and served out.

Murray broke the Del Potro serve in the opening game of the second set, but the advantage did not last. Del Potro broke back instantly, and then held serve.

The way he swatted away a difficult cross-court forehand to win the fifth game of the set was indicative of his confidence. But the set remained on serve, and it was not so easy to swat Murray away. Another tie-break loomed and, after an early exchange of mini-breaks, Murray took charge of it to level the match.

Del Potro, who had called for the trainer to apply some ointment to this back fell behind early in the deciding set. Murray dominated the opening four games, winning each of them, before Del Potro, who had looked a beaten man, hit back briefly by breaking Murray to 15.

The fightback was shortlived though, as Murray won the next two games to complete a stunning victory, and improve his record against Del Potro to four wins in five meetings. Murray, who won $443,000 (£268,000), will hope the success in Montreal has a positive effect on him, just as it did last year.

In 2008 he reached the Montreal semi-finals, and went on to triumph in Cincinnati in the following week, before proceeding to reach his first Grand Slam final at the US Open, where he lost out to Roger Federer in straight sets. He will be back at Cincinnati in the coming week to defend his title.

Murray became the highest-ever ranked British man, overtaking Rafael Nadal to reach No 2 in the world by defeating Jo Wilfried-Tsonga 6-4, 7-6 on Saturday night.

Murray's win over Tsonga made him the highest-ranked British man since ATP rankings began in 1973, and also broke the duopoly Nadal and Swiss rival Roger Federer have held over the top two spots since July 2005.

"For five years it's been Rafa and Roger one and two,'' Murray said. "So it's such a tough thing to do because Roger and Rafa are, I think, the two best maybe of all time. So it's pretty special to get in between them.''