Top-ranked Novak Djokovic lost for the first time this season,falling to Andy Murray 6-2 7-5 in the semifinals of the Dubai Championships on Friday. The surprisingly one-sided victory ended Djokovics 10-match winning streak that included the Australian Open title and his bid for a fourth successive Dubai title.
In the final,Murray will meet Roger Federer,who edged Juan Martin del Potro 7-6 (5) 7-6 (6). Del Potro missed four set-points in the second-set tiebreaker at 6-2,with Federer winning the last six points. Federer will aim for his fifth Dubai title but first in five years.
Murray gave himself a much-needed boost of confidence after losing to Djokovic in five-sets in the Australian Open semifinals. I think its big for me that after Australia this year Ive come back and had a win like tonight, Murray said.
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.
Djokovic paid tribute to Murrays aggressive play. I was fighting for it,but,you know,Andy played a great match, Djokovic said. He was the better player today. He was serving really well. I made a lot of unforced errors when it was important. But,look,this is sport. Its normal that in some matches you cant pull out your best when you need to.
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,the 24-year-old Serb appeared rusty in the early stages of the tournament,toiling to beat 72nd-ranked Cedrik-Marcel Stebe and 74th-ranked Sergiy Stakhovsky.