Murray tops Federer; Djokovic up next
SHANGHAI (AP) Two-time defending champion Andy Murray beat an erratic-serving Roger Federer in a rainy semifinal Saturday, setting up a U.S. Open final rematch against Novak Djokovic at the Shanghai Masters.
Djokovic reached his 10th final of the year by defeating fourth-seeded Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-4 in the earlier semifinal. Djokovic is looking for his fifth title of the year and second straight after winning in Beijing last week.
Federer's serve gave him so much trouble that in one stretch he double-faulted three straight times. When asked if he had done before, he said: "It has happened, and today again. It happens, unfortunately."
Murray broke Federer in the fifth game of the first set but then wasted seven break points in the first game of the second. The top-ranked Swiss held serve before a brief rain delay.
But Federer couldn't stave off Murray, who again broke to go up 3-2. There was one more rain delay before the U.S. Open champion served out the match.
The players left the court for about 30 minutes at 5-4 while organizers closed the eight-petal magnolia-shaped roof. When play resumed, Murray needed only five points to finish the match.
"You'll pay the price by having an average game like that against a top guy like Andy," Federer said.
Murray, seeded third, improved his record against Federer to 10-8. Murray won their previous match, the Olympic final in London. Federer won their Wimbledon final earlier this summer.
Federer struggled with his first serve, double-faulting five times. Federer lost his serve in the fifth game of the first set when from 0-15 he double-faulted three straight times.
"I was able to be very aggressive on his second serve," Murray said. "He, maybe, slowed down his first serve a little bit so I was able to take a few more chances on his first serve."
Djokovic recorded his tour-leading 69th victory of the year. The second-seeded Serb hit 25 winners and converted all three of his break points to improve his head-to-head record against Berdych to 10-1.
"Movement today was very important from my side, to be on a very high level so I can try to get into the longer rallies where I find more chances on my side to win the rallies," Djokovic said. "(I) played tactically right. I was putting a lot of returns into the court, making a lot of pressure on his serve."
Djokovic rushed to a 5-1 lead in the first set. When serving for the set at 5-2 he was broken for the only time in the 1 hour, 25 minute match. In the second set, Djokovic broke the Czech's serve in the third game.
"I need to give credit to Novak. He started really like a champion," Berdych said. "He started really, really great, and didn't give me a chance at all."