Novak Djokovic outlasted Andy Murray in a typically punishing encounter to claim his fifth Miami Open title.
The world No 1 powered through a brutal third set in the searing Florida heat to win 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 6-0 and extend his dominance over his Scottish rival.
Djokovic’s latest Miami success extended his personal record to 18-8 over Murray and further enhanced his reputation as the world’s greatest player in terms of both technique and willpower.
The match blistered past at an inevitably frenetic pace, as the pair traded inch-perfect winners or competed in a war of attrition, but Djokovic found answers for anything Murray could muster.
And he said: “I could not ask for a better start to the season, winning three big titles. Hopefully I’m able to use this for the clay court coming up. That’s extremely important for me leading up to French Open.
“I don’t want to predict anything nor put some additional unnecessary pressure on myself but I hope this is just the beginning.”
Djokovic also became the first player to win the Indian Wells and Miami double on three separate occasions with the victory.
British No 1 Murray was stroking the ball sweeter as the match opened up, winning a break point in just the third game to illicit the underdog’s optimism that is becoming typical of these matches.
But Djokovic broke back immediately to assert his own authority on the match before his radar and accuracy truly focused.
Murray did not waiver, again overcoming the Serb’s serve to win a second break and go 4-3 ahead, only for Djokovic to repeat his trick of quickly breaking back to quieten a Miami crowd that were largely backing the Brit who uses the city as his regular training base.
The first signs of Djokovic’s superior engine kicked into gear at the end of the opening set as Murray’s form dwindled towards the tie-break, which the world No 1 claimed 7-3 to get on the scoreboard first.
Such a lung-busting first set meant the second was played at a more forgiving pace, and in turn the scoreboard moved with service games.
The intensity increased until Djokovic sloppily erred to go 5-4 down, before a stunning Murray overhead shot landed on the line giving him three set points against the serve.
He completed the job but could not muster the same energy as the match wore on.
Although Djokovic received a stern telling off from the umpire after a foul-mouthed reaction, aimed towards the ball boys, after losing the second set, Murray was in no shape to take advantage of those vulnerabilities.
The Scot visibly limped and staggered between points and seemed unable to defend his serve in the first game, giving up a quick break.
Djokovic came out on top in a sensational rally in the second game, finishing with a clever flick, before storming through a battle of will and determination to make it 3-0.
The double break seemed a bridge too far and Djokovic breezed through the remainder of the match to win his 51st career title, his 22nd Masters title and a fifth Miami Open title.
“I’m not quite there with Novak, but I feel like I’m getting closer,” Murray conceded afterwards.
“He serves well, he runs well, he moves exceptionally well. Physically he’s in great shape; he hits the ball well off both sides.
“So, yeah, he does most things on the tennis court well. That’s why he’s the number one player in the world.”
Murray is set to return to world No 3 when the rankings are released on Monday on account of his Florida performances.