MIAMI: Reigning champion Novak Djokovic reached the final of the ATP/WTA Miami Masters tournament by beating a stubborn 21st seeded Juan Monaco 6-0, 7-6 (7/5) to set up a finals clash with Andy Murray.
World No. 1 Djokovic breezed through the first set in just 27 minutes and appeared to be cruising to a victory when Monaco got hot in the second set which lasted one hour, 36 minutes.
The 24-year-old five-time Grand Slam winner advances to Sunday’s championship match where he will face fourth seeded Scot Murray.
Djokovic is in his fourth final and chasing his third Miami title, having won previously in 2007 and last year. He was also runner-up here three years ago.
Murray won in a walkover when Spaniard Rafael Nadal withdrew shortly before their semi-final with a knee injury. Last year, Djokovic came from behind to beat Nadal 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) in the final.
Djokovic finished with two aces and four double faults in the two hour, three minute centre court match as he continued his domination over Monaco, improving to a perfect 5-0 in career meetings.
Djokovic got off to a flying start Friday, winning six straight games in the first set and clinching it on a cross-court forehand to the open court.
He won 71 percent of his second-serve points compared to just 13 percent for Monaco, who won just eight points the entire first set.
But Monaco turned his game around in the second, using his superb baseline tactics and powerful groundstrokes to force a tie-breaker.
Djokovic served for the match in the 10th game of the second set but couldn’t close the deal after falling behind 0-40. He managed to battle back to level at 40-40 but then hit a forehand into the net on the last point of the game.
Djokovic improved to 19-2 on the season and is in his first final since winning the Australian Open in January.
This marked the second match in a row Djokovic struggled to finish off an opponent and needed a tiebreaker to clinch it. In the quarter-finals against fifth seed David Ferrer, Djokovic easily won the first set 6-2 but then stumbled down the stretch before before winning 7-6 (7/1) in the second set.
Monaco had celebrated his 28th birthday Thursday by upsetting world number eight Mardy Fish 6-1, 6-3. Monaco also eliminated Andy Roddick in front of the former US Open winner’s home crowd.
Monaco can take solace in reaching the semi-finals for the first time in Miami. His best previous showing was getting to the third round four times.