Andy Murray defeats Novak Djokovic to reach Dubai Championship final
ANDY Murray ended Novak Djokovic’s quest for a fourth successive Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title after inflicting a first defeat of the season on the world number one in yesterday’s semi-finals.
It was not quite revenge for his Australian Open loss to the same opponent earlier this year, but Murray can take satisfaction from defeating the Serbian top seed 6-2, 7-5 in just one hour and 22 minutes .
Third seed Murray will now face Roger Federer in today’s final after the Swiss ace defeated Juan Martin Del Potro 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (8/6) in yesterday’s second semi-final. Murray, who lost an epic five-set match to Djokovic in the semi-finals in Melbourne, said after yesterday’s triumph: “I’ve had a lot of tough losses in my career. To come back from them hasn’t always been that easy. I think it’s big for me that after Australia this year I have come back and had a win like tonight.
“Hopefully that will set me up well for the year. Confidence in tennis and almost any individual sport is so important. A win like tonight will do that no harm; therefore, mentally I’m sure I’ll be stronger.”
Murray, who is hunting a 23rd career title and second of 2012 having been victorious in Brisbane in January, feels he can also improve on his performance against Djokovic.
He added: “It wasn’t an amazing standard. I still think I could’ve played better as well. I’m sure Novak feels the same. So that’s actually a good sign for me that maybe not playing my best tennis I could still win against him.”
Three-time reigning Dubai champion Djokovic had also been chasing his second tournament success of the year following his triumph at the Australian Open. He was also looking to extend his current winning streak to 19 matches.
A gracious Djokovic felt Murray was a deserved winner, though, saying on www.atpworldtour.com: “Andy played a great match. He was the better player today.
“He was serving really well. I made a lot of unforced errors when it was important.”
Djokovic denied that his four weeks off since winning the Australian Open – a time in which he collected several awards and went skiing with friends – influenced the outcome of the match. Still, he appeared rusty in the early stages of the tournament, toiling to beat 72nd-ranked Cedrik-Marcel Stebe and 74th-ranked Sergiy Stakhovsky.
“I thought I’ve been doing well since Wimbledon last year. You know, I’ve been having a lot of off-court activities since I became No 1, but I have a team of people that controls it well,” he said.
“Obviously there is a lot of temptations and a lot of things that you can enjoy. But it’s normal. You can’t on one hand just be 100 per cent of your life in the tennis. You are young. You have to enjoy life.”
Second seed Federer also progressed through to the final in straight sets, although it took him two hours to see off the challenge of eighth-seeded Argentinian Del Potro in a hard-fought encounter that saw neither player manage a break of serve.
Federer’s victory saw him reach the Dubai final for the seventh time, having won this tournament four times in five years between 2003 and 2007 as well as finishing runner-up to Rafael Nadal in 2006 and Djokovic last year.
Murray holds the upper hand in career meetings with Federer, winning eight of 14 clashes between the pair, but it was the Swiss who emerged victorious in the last clash, winning 6-4, 6-2 at the ATP World Tour Finals in London in November 2010.
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