DUBAI SHOW­DOWN

Mur­ray, Ver­dasco clash for hon­ours

New Straits Times - - Sport -

World No 1 Andy Mur­ray showed no signs of weari­ness to ease into the Dubai Ten­nis Cham­pi­onships fi­nal where he will be chas­ing his 45th ca­reer ti­tle.

The top seed de­feated sev­enth­seeded French­man Lu­cas Pouille 7-5, 6-1 and faced vet­eran Spa­niard Fer­nando Ver­dasco — who broke three times in the de­cid­ing set to de­feat Robin Haase 7-6 (7/5), 5-7, 6-1 in the other semi-fi­nal — in the fi­nal late yes­ter­day.

Ver­dasco, 33 and ranked 35th, has man­aged just one win from 13 meet­ings with Mur­ray.

“It was tough, it wasn’t the best match,” Mur­ray said. “A lot of mis­takes. But there was some good stuff in there, nei­ther of us served well at the be­gin­ning.

“I think po­ten­tially the match yes­ter­day (Thursday) had some­thing to do with that — some­times if your legs are a lit­tle bit tired, the serve is one of the first things that goes.

“As the match went on, I started serv­ing a bit bet­ter and that helped me. The first set was very im­por­tant to win af­ter how the matches went yes­ter­day.”

For Mur­ray, a leisurely first set took 67 minutes to com­plete on Fri­day, with Pouille com­ing from a break down but los­ing serve for 4-4 on a double-fault.

Mur­ray broke in the fi­nal game to se­cure the match lead. The Scot then shifted up a gear, and ran out the win­ner with a 27minute sec­ond set.

Mur­ray’s win im­proved his 2017 record to 11-2 as he seeks a 45th ca­reer ti­tle — he lost the 2012 fi­nal in Dubai to Roger Fed­erer, his best per­for­mance at the event.

The Wim­ble­don cham­pion re­turned to the court just 24 hours af­ter his epic quar­ter-fi­nal win over Philipp Kohlschreiber which saw the World No 1 save seven match points in a 31-minute, 38point sec­ond set tiebreak.

Ver­dasco won his last tro­phy 11 months ago on clay in Bucharest and was a Doha semi-fi­nal­ist at the start of the sea­son.

“It was a re­ally tough match, I needed to be there till the last point,” Ver­dasco said.

“I’m re­ally happy to be in the fi­nal, to win this match.”

The Spa­niard im­proved his ca­reer record over Haase to 4-3 thanks to Fri­day’s vic­tory which was sealed in two and a quar­ter hours.

Ver­dasco re­cov­ered from a break in the open­ing game of the match, win­ning the first set in a tiebreaker be­fore his Dutch op­po­nent lev­elled at a set each.

How­ever, Ver­dasco ran off with the win in the de­cider, overcoming eight aces while pro­duc­ing just two him­self for his eighth vic­tory of the sea­son.

REUTERS PIC

Andy Mur­ray ju­bi­lates win­ning the semi-fi­nal against Lu­cas Pouille in the Dubai Cham­pi­onship on Fri­day.

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