Murray faces Federer in Dubai Open final
DUBAI WORLD number one Novak Djokovic was beaten for the first time this year when his first tournament since his Australian Open triumph ended in a straight sets semifinal defeat to Andy Murray at the Dubai Open.
The triple Grand Slam finalist beat the triple Grand Slam title-holder from Serbia 6-2, 7- 5 to earn a final against Roger Federer on Saturday.
Federer reached his 102nd career final with a 7-6 (7/5), 7- 6 (8/6) win over Juan Martin Del Potro which earned him a chance of extending his record of Dubai titles to five.
The Grand Slam recordholder from Switzerland beat the 2009 US Open champion from Argentina with a calm and solid performance in which he held all his service games throughout a fourth successive match.
He also saved four set points in the second set tiebreak.
Murray, who lost a thrilling Australian Open semi-final to Djokovic, gained revenge in an impressive display.
It was an unpredictable match, with two or three surprising twists and turns, Djokovic attacking the net more than usual, but Murray being the better server and more consistent player.
“You know some parts of this match I played well, but he was just the better player,” said Djokovic. “So I have to congratulate him on that.
“But generally I feel good, physically, mentally, you know. It’s just the start of the season. You know, some 1000 events coming up which are really important (Indian Wells and Miami) and I need to get ready.” Murray could not hide his pleasure. “It’s obviously great any time you beat the world number one,” he said. “I just tried to do some of the same things I did in Australia.
“I was very close there against one of the greatest players ever, and today I did what I needed to - even though it nearly got away from me at the end.” That involved taking away time from Djokovic with consistent pressure and a better balanced mixture of attack and defence.
He was helped by an indifferent spell from Djokovic, who played two poor service games in the first set and another early in the second.
But when Murray tried to serve out for the match at 5-3 in the second set he grew tense and missed the great opportunity, only to earn another after forcing Djokovic into driving errors three games later.
“I managed to hang in at the end. That’s the most important thing, when you get nervous and blow a chance - you stay strong and win the match.
I did that,” said Murray.
This was his first victory over Djokovic in a completed match for nearly three years.
It left an impression that his unbroken two-week stint of training in Miami had given him better preparation for this tournament than Djokovic, perhaps helping achieve a deeper focus.
Djokovic, who received the Laureus World sportsman of the Year award in London and became the recipient of Serbia’s highest civil award in Belgrade, endured this defeat not long after receiving these and other honours.
“I been having a lot off court activities since I became number one, but I have a team of people that controls it well,” he said.
“Obviously there are a lot of temptations and a lot of things that you can enjoy. But it’s normal. You know, you can’t have just 100 percent of your life in the tennis.”