Andy Murray will try to cap a milestone week, while Novak Djokovic is aiming for another hardcourt double victory when they square off in the Miami Open final on Sunday.
Murray will be gunning for his third Miami Masters title after beating Czech Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-4 on Friday to secure his final berth. It marks the fourth trip to the championship match for Murray who earlier this week joined the elite club of players to win 500 career matches.
Djokovic, who defeated Murray in the Australian Open final earlier this year for his eighth Grand Slam crown, beat hard-serving John Isner 7-6 (7/3), 6-2 in the other semi-final.
Djokovic, 27, is trying to become the first player to sweep the Indian Wells and Miami Masters hardcourt titles on three separate occasions. He achieved the US hardcourt double in 2011 and again last year.
“We have very similar games,” Djokovic said of Murray. “We already played twice this year, and in a big match in Australian Open final which was very, very physical and very close.
“I expect a battle, long rallies, and I know what is expected of me on the court. I know his game pretty well, as well as he knows mine.”
Djokovic won the first set against Isner in a tiebreaker then got the early break in the second set to go up 2-1.
Djokovic served brilliantly, blasting 10 aces and winning 80 percent of his first-serve points in the 90-minute match.
His two service breaks against Isner were the key as the towering American had not been broken coming into the semi-final contest.
“He is the best server we have in the game,” Djokovic said of Isner. “He is 6’10” so he can hit any angle he wants. I didn’t know what my preference was — to have him hit his first serve in, or his second serve in. They are both equally good.
“I managed to get a lot of serves back. That was one of the keys of the match. To get into the rally and make him work extra hard.”
With the win over Berdych, Murray evened his record against the eighth-seeded Czech at 6-6 and backed up his victory in the semi-finals of the Australian Open.
“I thought it was a high quality match,” said the 27-year-old, who is set to return to number three in the world next week.
“We played some good points. I thought it was a pretty clean match. I felt like I just played a bit better than him. That was the difference.”
The two sets unfolded in identical fashion, Scotland’s Murray opening with a break of Berdych’s serve, dropping his own serve then breaking again.
That second break in each set proved enough for Murray, who is now poised to battle for his firstMasters level title since he lifted the trophy here at Crandon Park in 2013.
Down 0-30 in the ninth game of the second set, Berdych rallied to hold serve and force Murray to serve for the match.
Murray trailed 0-30, but battled back and gave himself a match point with an angled forehand volley followed by a backhand cross-court winner before sealing it with a final cross-court forehand that was too much for the Czech. – Agence France-Presse