Frustrated Andy Murray ready for Miami showdown with Novak Djokovic
Britain's Andy Murray
will face the defending champion Novak Djokovic
in a repeat of their momentous Australian Open semi-final after the Serbian world No1 claimed a 6-0, 7-6 (7-5) win over Argentina's Juan Mónaco to book his place in Sunday's Sony Ericsson Open final – an event regarded as the fifth grand slam – in Miami.
In contrast to Britain's world No4, who advanced without playing a shot as Rafael Nadal withdrew through injury, what looked like being a simple outing for Djokovic turned into something more taxing as Mónaco battled back in the second set.
Murray was disappointed not to be able to put his gameplan, worked out with his coach Ivan Lendl, to the test. "Every time you play against one of the top guys in the world, it's always a good opportunity to see where your game's at," he said.
"I have been working with Ivan now for a couple of months, on certain tactics that would work against Rafa, Novak and Roger [Federer]. It would have been nice to see whether or not those things were working."
Murray will now get the chance to try out some of those tactics as he faces Djokovic for the third time this season in his bid to win a second title of the season, following his victory over Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov in Brisbane in January.
Djokovic beat the Scot in five sets in the Australian Open semi-final on his way to claiming the Melbourne crown in a match regarded as one of the best in recent years, but Murray got his revenge at the same stage in Dubai.
Djokovic's victory over the Argentinian was similar to his victory over the Spaniard David Ferrer on Friday. The first set could barely have been simpler for Djokovic as he dropped only eight points.
And though Mónaco upped his game in the second set, making life uncomfortable for the top seed, Djokovic seemed to be on his way to a straightforward win as he served for the match at 5-4. But, just as Ferrer did, Mónaco broke back and took the set into a tie-break.
It only delayed the inevitable, though, as the defending champion sealed his progress on his second match point. "As I did in the quarter-finals, I started very strong, just going for the shots, being very aggressive," Djokovic said. "Then I just wasn't able to close it out. It was an exciting match I think for us to play and for the crowd. I didn't expect an easy match and I'm just happy to be through."
Nadal, meanwhile, revealed he pulled out of his semi-final against Murray because he did not want to "lie to everybody". The world No 2 fell foul yet again of his long-suffering knees in Miami, this time his left one, handing Murray a free pass.
Nadal still opted to face the media, though, and admitted he made the decision, albeit just two hours prior to the start, in the interests of honesty. "I waited until the morning. I did a lot of treatment yesterday," he said.
"But I am not ready to compete. I am very sorry for the fans. I'm very sorry for the tournament. I'm very sorry for everybody who was ready to watch the match on television. I cannot go on court and lie to everybody."