Murray hands Djokovic first loss of season; Federer in final

Dubai Open
By Rajesh Srinivasan, March 3rd, 2012

The Dubai Open semifinals on Friday featured a rematch of two grand slam finals – 2011 Australian Open and 2009 US Open. Three time defending champion and World No.1 Novak Djokovic lost to Andy Murray in straight sets 6-2, 7-5 in the semi finals of the Dubai Open while four time winner Roger Federer overcame a spirited challenge from Juan Martin Del Potro 7-6(5), 7-6(8-6).

Andy Murray handed season'#s first defeat to Novak Djokovic in the semifinals of Dubai Open

Andy Murray handed season'#s first defeat to Novak Djokovic in the semifinals of Dubai Open

The start of the match saw Djokovic have an easy time winning the first ten points on his serve but at 2-3 he lost four points in a row from 30-0 to drop his serve. Murray then found himself in trouble at 15-40 but recovered to hold serve with some huge serves and deep ground strokes that forced Djokovic into errors. Up 5-2, Murray had 3 set points, the second of which he converted with a powerful backhand.

The second set saw Murray ride the momentum breaking serve early with the help of superb retrieving that forced Djokovic to go for more and commit the error. Murray was up 3-0 and looked set for an easy win having won 7 games in a row from 2-2 in the first set. However serving for the match at 5-3, Murray got nervous making two unforced errors and a double fault handing Djokovic back the break. Murray again found himself in the brink of victory setting up match points at 15-40 when Djokovic served to stay in the match at 5-6. This time Murray converted with Novak hitting a forehand into the net. One of the keys to Murray’s win was his ability to come up with a big serve at crucial junctures. Djokovic had started 2011 with 41 wins in a row while this year his win streak ended at 10.

Federer beat Del Potro 7-6(5), 7-6(6) in a match that did not feature any break of serve. The first set was routine with both players not facing much trouble on serve till the 12th game. Serving down 5-6, Del Potro faced set point twice but came up with a ferocious forehand winner and a wonderful overhead smash winner after a blistering rally. The tie break however saw Federer race to a 4-1, 6-2 lead. Del Potro closed the gap to 5-6 hitting freely but a weak return enabled Federer to win the set.

At 1-1 in the second set, Federer earned himself 3 breakpoints off a lucky net cord that dropped dead on court. Del Potro came up with some of his best tennis serving two aces and pulling off some powerful ground strokes to hold serve. Del Potro survived another breakpoint at 2-2. The second set too went to a tie breaker where Del Potro stormed off to a 5-0, 6-2 lead. The decider looked imminent but more drama unfolded now as Federer fought back to 6-6 helped by some errors from Del Potro. Eventually Federer earned a match point and converted to win 8-6.

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