Qatar Open 2017: Murray and Djokovic advance in Doha

Qatar Open 2017: Murray and Djokovic advance in Doha

The world number one and two could meet in the final at the Qatar Open.

Joe Nicholson

Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic remained on course to meet each other at the Qatar Open after both reached the semi-final stage on Thursday.

Murray, the world number one and top seed in Doha, didn’t have it all his own way as he battled past a tricky opponent in Span’s Nicolás Almagro to recorded a 7-6(4) 7-5 victory.  

The Scott will now take on third seed Tomas Berdych in the last four after the Czech overcame Jo-Wilfred Tsonga in straight sets.

In comparison, Djokovic made lighter work of the Czech veteran and his good friend Radek Stepanek, who was dispatched 6-3 6-3 in an hour and 31 minutes.

After losing his number one ranking to Murray at the end of last year, Djokovic will be keen to register an early win over his main rival at the start of 2017 - ahead of the Australian Open which gets underway in just over a week’s time.

The Serb will now face Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in the first of Friday’s semi-finals.

Neither Djokovic or Murray have dropped a set on route to the last four, though the latter has been more severely tested.

The British number one needed over two hours to defeat Austrian Gerald Melzer in the second round and it was a similar story against Almagro, the world number 44.

Almagro adapts to the conditions early on

The windy conditions provided a difficult challenge from the off and it was Almagro who adapted the quickest by claiming an early break.

Murray appeared to struggle with the timing on his returns - which are usually so impeccable.

Almagro’s aggressive groundstrokes didn’t allow the top seed to gain much rhythm from the back of the court, however he couldn’t close out the opening set.

After snatching the break back, Murray took a commanding 4-0 lead in the tie break before eventually closing it out 7-4.

Murray gets the job done

When Murray broke the Almagro serve again at the start of the second set, the Spaniard’s resistance appeared to be waning.

However, the 31-year-old is a tough competitor and he managed to bring parity to the score line almost immediately.

At 5-5, though, Murray made the decisive breakthrough which enabled him to serve for the match.

He made no mistake, as he wrapped up the victory in two hours and nine minutes.