On this day: Andy Murray topples Novak Djokovic to set Roger Federer clash in Dubai


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On this day: Andy Murray topples Novak Djokovic to set Roger Federer clash in Dubai

At the beginning of 2011, Andy Murray lost another Major final in Melbourne, losing to Novak Djokovic in straight sets and finding form again on clay and grass to follow the pace on Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

By the end of the season, Murray conquered Cincinnati, Bangkok, Tokyo and Shanghai, withdrawing after one match at the ATP Finals and preparing for a fresh start of 2012. The new season brought an instant title for Andy in Brisbane, reaching the semi-final in Melbourne where Djokovic proved to be too strong again in five sets and taking a well-deserved rest ahead of Dubai, reaching the semi-final and setting another clash with Novak Djokovic on March 2.

It was the 12th encounter between the coevals and Murray grabbed the fifth victory, beating Djokovic 6-2, 7-5 in an hour and 23 minutes to set the final match against Roger Federer. The Briton fended off two out of three break chances and stole 42% of the return points, claiming four breaks from five opportunities to control the pace and close the match after a tight second set.

Andy had more winners than unforced errors while Novak sprayed too many mistakes, unable to find the rhythm on the return or impose his shots in the rallies. The Serb held at love in the opening two service games and that all changed at 2-3 when his forehand landed long, pushing Murray in front before creating two break chances in the next game.

Andy stayed calm and took four straight points, closing the game with a service winner to extend the advantage to 5-2 and take a big step towards the opener. Losing ground in those moments, Novak got broken at 15 in game eight after a backhand winner from Murray who needed only 30 minutes to wrap up the first part of the match, hoping for more of the same in set number two.

Things went from bad to worse for the Serb who sent a forehand wide in the second game to suffer a break at 15, allowing Andy to open a 3-0 advantage with a backhand down the line winner in the next game. With no room for errors, Novak held at love in game four but couldn't do much on the return in games five and seven, sending Murray 5-2 up and serving to stay in the match at 2-5.

The Serb held at 15 to reduce the deficit, breaking back in the very last moment a few minutes later to prolong the set and gain a massive boost. The defending champion leveled the score at 5-5 when Andy netted a forehand, looking better and better and trying to provide a complete turnaround and steal the set.

The Briton delivered much-needed hold at 15 with an ace that sent him 6-5 up, ending his downfall and creating two match points in the next game after a backhand mistake from Djokovic who netted a forehand to hand the game and the match to Murray who faced Roger Federer in the final on the next day.