By Chris Oddo | Thursday, September 4, 2014
Novak Djokovic got by Andy Murray in four sets on Tuesday night to set up a semifinal clash with Kei Nishikori at the US Open.
Photo Source: AP
It started as a classic and ended as a clunker. Novak Djokovic’s 7-6(1), 6-7(1), 6-2, 6-4 victory over Andy Murray looked to be heading towards instant-classic status after the first two marathon sets, but by the middle of the third Murray’s fitness issues took center stage and Djokovic coasted to the finish line unhindered to reach his 8th consecutive US Open final.
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“Yeah, [Djokovic was] definitely was fresher at the end, as well,” Murray said. “That helped him.”
"I feel like there is a point where I feel I have that edge, you know, maybe physically," Djokovic said. "That's where I try to always focus on and, you know, it paid off tonight."
Djokovic, who was forced to save 12 of 16 break points on the evening, saved all three break points he faced in the final two sets. He moves on to face Kei Nishikori in the semifinals.
Djokovic Moves Past Murray
Despite his physical ailments—he said he became stiff in his hips and his back at the end of the third set—Murray wasn’t far from forcing Djokovic to the limit in their 21st career meeting.
Murray, who hit 18 unforced errors against 5 winners in the fourth set, did have the first chance to break, and even when he didn’t convert, he was able to stay with Djokovic until four-all. But after Djokovic held to put the pressure on the Scot to stay in the match, Murray was broken to 15 as his last-ditch backhand was netted.
The quality of the third and fourth sets were a far cry from the level in the first two sets, which took two hours and 13 minutes to complete, each set ending in a tiebreaker.
Murray impressed with booming forehands during that stretch, while both blanketed the court and exchanged pinpoint groundstrokes during long, lung-searing rallies.
But after winning the second set, Murray’s serve lost steam as Djokovic moved in for the kill.
"He didn't give me a lot of rhythm in the fourth," Djokovic said. "I thought I won my service games quite comfortably, but I wasn't managing to make the difference in his service games because he was just going for his shots and they were going in. And, you know, in the most important moment in 5-4 in the fourth he made a couple of errors. I stayed in the point, and that's what brought me a win."
“I'm tired,” Murray lamented. “I don't feel particularly proud right now. I feel disappointed. But, yeah, I think there was some good tennis there. Hopefully I can build on that.”