Murray v Federer in Dubai
Dubai - Novak Djokovic lost his chance to repeat his incredible 2011 run after succumbing 6-2, 7-5 to Andy Murray in the semi-finals of the Dubai Championships on Friday.
The Serbian world No 1 had strung together a 41-match winning streak at the start of 2011, during which he won seven titles, before eventually being beaten by Roger Federer in the French Open semi-finals.
But Murray made sure Djokovic's ride would not be as smooth this season as he avenged his five-set Australian Open semi-final loss in devastating fashion on Friday.
The Briton, 24, will face 16-times Grand Slam champion Federer in Saturday's final after the Swiss edged past Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (8-6).
"The first set I served well very well and was aggressive when I had my chances," Murray told reporters after becoming the first player to beat Djokovic this year.
"Then at the beginning of the second Novak started trying to go for more shots.
"This is why the match in Australia was so important, because the last couple times we played each other, I think I made it incredibly hard for him. I fought for every single point and made it really, really tough.
"In the second set he started going for more and making mistakes because of that, because it's tough to always grind out matches."
Djokovic started strongly, holding his opening two service games to love but from 2-2 a pumped-up Murray then won seven games in a row to claim the first set and go 3-0 up in the second on a balmy evening in Dubai.
Roared on by 5 000 fans, Murray served for the match at 5-3 and nerves got the better of the world No 4, double-faulting as Djokovic, 24, earned two break points.
A netted backhand from the Briton then enabled Djokovic to pull it back to 5-4 and the set appeared to be heading for a tie-break. However, Murray roused himself to break again and seal victory after the Serb clubbed a forehand into the net.
Federer squandered five set points against Del Potro before clinching the first tie-break 7-5, a thunderous serve setting up the Swiss to come forward and play a forehand winner into the corner.
Federer, who lost to Del Potro in the 2009 US Open final, saved four set points in the second set tie-break. He stormed back from 6-2 behind to win it 8-6 after the towering Argentine clubbed a forehand long.
The second seed said he was looking forward to renewing his rivalry with Murray on Saturday, especially since the two had not faced off in 2011.
"Last year was sort of hard to find each other with Novak sort of never losing - he was either cutting my way off or his way," Federer told reporters.
"So it's nice he (Murray) had a breakthrough win tonight. He played great and I expect a really difficult match in the final.
"He has a winning record against me, but we've played each other so many times we know each other's games well.
"I'm just excited playing against him again after such a long time. Andy is an amazing player, and so far he's proved that this year."
For gorgeous gifts at gorgeous prices, click here for the ultimate Christmas gift guide from Clicks.
Read News24’s Comments Policy