World No. 1 Roger Federer snapped a four-match losing streak against second-ranked Andy Murray on Saturday to book his berth in the Cincinnati Masters final.
Federer downed Murray 6-2, 7-6 (10/8), his first victory against the Scot since his triumph in last year’s US Open final.
Since then, Murray had bested the Swiss superstar four times, including twice this year.
In the final, Federer will face fourth-seeded Serb Novak Djokovic, who swept past Spain’s Rafael Nadal 6-1, 6-4 in the other semi-final.
Federer, whose 15 Grand Slam titles include this year’s French Open and Wimbledon crowns, gave Murray little room to maneuver this time, never facing a break point in a match lasting an hour and a half.
“I was happy that I managed to up my game in the second set,” said Murray, who had two chances in the tiebreaker to force a third set.
He couldn’t, however, and Federer claimed the victory when Murray double-faulted on Federer’s second-match point.
Murray had given Federer his first chance to close it out when he challenged rather than playing a Federer serve — and was wrong.
Murray, who sank to his knees right after issuing the challenge, said he knew he had blown the call.
Federer had clinched the opening set with a successful challenge, after giving himself his third set point against Murray’s serve with a textbook overhead smash.
Djokovic, who is last year’s runner-up in this event, cruised through the first set and managed an early break in the second en route to the victory. He is now just 5-14 all-time against the second-seeded Spaniard.
Russia’s Maria Sharapova took another big step in her comeback at the Toronto Cup on Saturday, reaching her first final in more than year with a gritty 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 over Alisa Kleybanova.
Playing for a title for the first time since Amelia Island in April last year, Sharapova was set for an attempt to confirm her return from shoulder surgery with a victory when she took on compatriot Elena Dementieva in yesterday’s final.
Fourth-seeded Dementieva advanced to her fourth final of the year with a clinical 7-6, 6-1 win over world No. 2 Serena Williams.
Sharapova offered up 12 double faults and was only able to convert 5-of-22 break opportunities against Kleybanova, but made up for those shortcomings with her tenacious competitiveness.
Her 20-year-old opponent also did not lack for grit giving the former world No. 1 all she could handle despite having to recover from a marathon 3 hour, 16 minute, three-set victory over fifth seed Jelena Jankovic on Friday.
Saturday’s match lasted more than two-and-a-half hours.
Williams, who dashed Dementieva’s grand slam dreams on her way to winning this year’s Australian Open and Wimbledon titles, was swept off the court by the fourth-seeded Russian.
The match produced little of the drama of their memorable Wimbledon semi-final won by Williams 8-6 in a third set thriller.