Novak Djokovic saved five match points as he rallied to beat Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 7-6(7), 6-3 at the Qatar Open on Friday. The Serbian will meet Andy Murray in the final after the top-ranked Scot brushed aside Thomas Berdych 6-3, 6-4 in the other semi-final.
World No 2 Djokovic took a 4-2 lead in the opening set before Spaniard Verdasco staged a stunning turnaround by winning four games on the trot to seal the set.
The Spanish world No 42 took a 2-0 lead in the second before Djokovic broke back to level the 4-all. The Serb then saved five match points before winning the tie-breaker.
Djokovic broke Verdasco in the third game of the decider to take early control and did not let up on the pressure to win the match.
“I would like to say tough luck for Fernando, he was clearly the better player for the bigger part of the match and he should have won," Djokovic was quoted as saying by the ATP website. "I don't think I've saved five match points too many times.
“It was quite a thrilling experience for me to be able to go five match points down... I'm obviously very pleased because you need
“He had three out of five match points with his serve, and three, four of the five match points he had a forehand to finish it off and he didn't. It's not because I've done something right. It's just that it happened that way.
In Saturday’s showdown, Djokovic will play Murray, who dethroned him as world No 1 last year.
“Playing already in the finals of the first event definitely serves as a great confidence incentive. Obviously, this is exactly what I hoped that I can achieve, to get to the finals,” Djokovic said.
“I'm hoping I can play on a high level and we can compete as we always did against each other. We always have very physical battles, long rallies, entertaining matches. Between No 1 and No. 2 in the world, it's a perfect match-up for the final. Let's see what happens.”