DEFENDING champion Novak Djokovic claimed a 6-0, 7-6 (7/5) win over Argentina’s Juan Monaco to book his place in today’s Sony Ericsson Open final against Andy Murray.
In contrast to Murray, who advanced without playing a shot as Rafael Nadal withdrew through injury, what looked like being a simple outing for Djokovic turned into something more taxing as Monaco battled back in the second set.
The first set could barely have been simpler for Djokovic as he dropped only eight points. And though Monaco upped his game in the second set, making life uncomfortable for the top seed, Djokovic seemed to be on his way to a straightforward win as he served for the match at 5-4. But, just as Ferrer did, Monaco broke back and took the set into a tie-break. It only delayed the inevitable, though, as the defending champion sealed his progress on his second match point.
Nadal, meanwhile, revealed he pulled out of his semi-final against Murray because he did not want to “lie to everybody”.
The world No.2 fell foul of his long-suffering knees in Miami, this time his left one, handing Murray a free pass. Nadal admitted he made the decision, albeit just two hours prior to the start of the match, in the interests of honesty.
“I am very sorry for the fans. I’m very sorry for the tournament,” Nadal said. “I’m very sorry for everybody who was ready to watch the match on television. I cannot go on court and lie to everybody.”
Murray was disappointed not to be able to put his gameplan, worked out with coach Ivan Lendl, to the test.
“Every time you play against one of the top guys in the world, it’s always a good opportunity to see where your game’s at,” he said.
“I have been working with Ivan now for a couple of months, on certain tactics that would work against Rafa, Novak and Roger [Federer]. It would have been nice to see whether or not those things were working.”
Murray will get the chance to try out some of those tactics as he faces Djokovic for the third time this season in today’s final.
Djokovic beat the Scot in five sets in the Australian Open semi-final on his way to claiming the Melbourne crown, but Murray got his revenge at the same stage in Dubai.
In the women’s final, played yesterday, Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska used her wits to defeat world No.2 Maria Sharapova 7-5, 6-4.
Sharapova has now lost all four finals she has featured in at the Miami tournament and all three she has played in this year.
Radwanska’s victory was her second of the year following a triumph in Dubai and her ninth WTA title, arguably her most valuable one.
The Polish world No.4 won the tournament without losing a set. “I will never be able to serve like Maria but I try different things and mix it up,” she said.