Djokovic and Murray into Shanghai final
Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic cruised through their semi-finals at the Shanghai Masters on Saturday to set up a repeat of their memorable US Open final last month.
Briton Murray, bidding for a hat-trick of titles in the Chinese port city, overpowered world number one Roger Federer 6-4 6-4 after Djokovic dispatched Tomas Berdych for the loss of one less game.
Federer, who conceded a crucial break of serve in the first set after three double-faults, was given a reprieve by a rain delay when Murray reached 5-4 in the second but he could not fend off the inevitable on the resumption.
Murray will be looking for a third consecutive victory over Djokovic after beating the Serbian world number two in the Olympic semi-final and then in their Flushing Meadows showdown.
“I’ve known him for 14, 15 years now,” Murray said.
“We’ve obviously had some incredibly tough matches which can maybe test a friendship. But we’ve always been I think pretty respectful of each other.”
There was not too much respect for 17-times grand slam champion Federer who produced a lacklustre display to lose for the 10th time to Murray in 18 meetings.
Murray was the dominant player throughout and Federer was merely hanging on for much of the time.
After service breaks were swapped early on, Murray seized control of the opening set in the fifth game when the Swiss served three consecutive double faults.
Murray squandered seven break points at the start of the second set as spots of rain caused a six-minute delay.
Federer was 40-0 up at 2-2 but Murray fired two unstoppable forehands on his way to snatching the game and he never looked back, despite the rain intervention at 5-4.
“He didn’t serve that well tonight, so I was able to be very aggressive on his second serve,” Murray said.
“He maybe slowed down his first serve a little bit, so I was able to take a few more chances. Obviously that helped. I went for it, like I did the past few times I played against him, and it worked tonight.
“When you’re beating the best player of all time probably, it’s obviously going to be special.”
Djokovic was equally impressive against hard-hitting Berdych, roaring into a 5-1 lead before the Czech dug in.
He was again dominant in the second set, capitalising on an early break to lead 4-2 before eventually serving out to sail into his first Shanghai final.
“Obviously it’s a big challenge when you play a top 10 player,” said Djokovic, who lost back-to-back Shanghai semi-finals in 2009 and 2010.
“Tomas is in great form the past couple of months. He’s always a difficult player to play against on any surface because he has a very powerful serve and great forehand.
“I played tactically right. I was putting a lot of returns into the court, putting a lot of pressure on his serve. On the other hand, I was serving well when I needed to.”
Looking ahead to his clash with Murray, Djokovic, who is bidding to reclaim the top ranking before the end of the year, said: “I don’t like the word ‘revenge.’
“I never like revenge. I just play tennis and I try to win every match that I play.