Djokovic battles past gutsy Murray to set up Nadal final

ROME Sat May 14, 2011 6:01pm EDT

Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates after defeating Andy Murray of Britain in their semi-final match at the Rome Masters tennis tournament May 14, 2011. REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito

Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates after defeating Andy Murray of Britain in their semi-final match at the Rome Masters tennis tournament May 14, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Giampiero Sposito

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ROME (Reuters) - Novak Djokovic booked another dream final against Rafa Nadal but was pushed to the limit before he beat Andy Murray 6-1 3-6 7-6 in an exhilarating match at the Rome Masters Saturday.

Djokovic, who had defeated Nadal for the first time on clay in the Madrid Open final a week ago, stretched his unbeaten run for the year to 36 matches.

World number two Djokovic broke Murray's serve in the second game and then twice more as the Scot struggled to live with the Serbian's power and precision.

But Murray, who had won three of their previous four confrontations, found the slower pace of the second set much more to his liking. He prospered in the long backhand rally exchanges and broke in the fifth game to square the match.

In a thrilling deciding set, Djokovic broke Murray's serve in the fifth game but the gutsy Scot refused to give up and broke back for 3-3 with a blistering backhand followed by a forehand as the momentum swung back his way.

A flurry of breaks followed and it seemed as if Murray would finally snap Djokovic remarkable run this season when he served for the match at 5-4.

But an exhausted-looking Djokovic, helped by two double faults, dug deep into his energy reserves to break back again in a game lasting more than eight minutes.

Once in the tiebreak, Djokovic stepped up a gear and produced a drop shot and a lob to reach 6-2. After sealing the match with another drop shot, he signally his relief by letting out an almighty roar.

(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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