Andy Murray fought back from match point down to beat David Ferrer 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-1) in Sunday's final at the Sony Open.
The grueling match at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park lasted two hours, 45 minutes and featured a bevy of long, grinding rallies that took a physical toll on the combatants. Both men continually ran down shots, leaving them gasping for air.
"It's taking a little while to sink in, because it's tough to think really at the end of the match," Murray remarked. "It was so tough physically and mentally that you were just trying to play each point. I wasn't thinking too much only because I was so tired and [did] not [have] too many nerves at the end of the match, either."
Murray, seeded second, overcame a sluggish start to claim the second set with a strong service game.
Holds became elusive, however, as the final set started with six service breaks in a row. Murray broke again to go up 5-4, but the third-seeded Ferrer won the next two games and a mishit volley by Murray gave him championship point.
On the verge of making history at Key Biscayne, Ferrer challenged a Murray shot he deemed long. The video showed it caught the baseline, and a fatigued Ferrer ended up losing in a lopsided tiebreak.
"It was a very close match. I had my chance on the match point," Ferrer said. "The ball, it was really close. I saw it out...I [made] my decision in that moment. It's a bad moment now. I don't want to think anymore about that. I want to forget as [fast] as possible."
By capturing his 26th career title, Murray will climb to No. 2 in the world rankings, leapfrogging Roger Federer. It was his second championship at this ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event, adding to his 2009 triumph.
The British star improved his head-to-head record against Ferrer to 7-5, including a 6-1 mark on hard courts.
Ferrer, who turns 31 on Tuesday, committed 50 unforced errors, five more than his opponent, and fell to 0-13 in finals against Top 5 players. He was looking to become the first Spaniard to win the title in the tournament's 28-year history. Spaniards are now 0-6 in finals here.
Despite the setback, Ferrer will move up one spot to No. 4 in the world rankings, switching places with countryman Rafael Nadal.
Ferrer took advantage of Murray's sloppy start to sweep the first five games of the match. Murray then double-faulted to close out a disappointing first set.
The 25-year-old Murray's play began to turn around in the second set as he consolidated a break with a hold for a 3-1 lead. Ferrer leveled the set at 4-4 before being broken again.