The World no. 2 Novak Djokovic made his way into the Miami Masters 2014 semi-finals by prevailing in a heavyweight clash against defending champion Andy Murray in straight sets. The rivals have met for the first time after the British player secured his debut Wimbledon title last July. In a closely- fought opener fifth-seeded Murray defended a couple of break points in the middle of the set before missing an opportunity to seize Novak’s serve in the eleventh game – the Serb responded by breaking to love and moving one nil ahead. After a steady introduction to the second set, the Scotsman broke the deadlock to go 3-2 up, but was helpless from then on as Djokovic seized two consecutive breaks before serving out the quarter-final encounter with a love hold. A three-time Sony Open Tennis conqueror advanced by winning 7-5, 6-3 to improve the head-to-head record to 12-8 and set up a surprise semi-final against Kei Nishikori of Japan. Nole scored 7 aces against Murray’s 1, maintained a 73% first serve ratio and won the same percentage of the subsequent rallies.
“In the second, even when I was broken, I felt like I still have chances and I still believe that I could win in straight sets,” said Djokovic. “I think I was calmer in the important moments where he wasn’t. He lost his composure, I think, and made unforced errors and allowed me to win.”
Twentieth-seeded Japanese, who entered the Miami QFs in a miraculous way after defending four match points when meeting David Ferrer, pulled off another great escape to turn around the clash against the 17-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer who has not dropped a service game earlier in the tournament. The Swiss confirmed his role as a favorite in the early stages when he obtained a 4-1 advantage and while Nishikori pegged back to make it 4-3, FedEx claimed another break before serving out the set. The second set had a somewhat similar course of events up to the point when the sixth seed Swiss reestablished his one break lead in the seventh game, yet this time the highest-ranked Japanese completed a comeback and squared things up after breaking for the third time. Nishikori kept battling well in the decider where he almost stunned Roger in the fourth game before producing a triple break and match point at 5-4 and converting on the third one for a spectacular 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 triumph. He beat Federer for the second time in three meetings on the tour to take over the lead in the head-to-head series.
“I could never really get my service games going,” stated Federer. “On the return, as the match went on, I think it was that Kei started to serve a bit better, which made it more difficult.”
“He’s playing well, no doubt,” said Nishikori. “I played him a long time ago, maybe three or four years ago in Basel, and I beat him before, so hopefully I can play good like today.”