DOHA — Novak Djokovic saved five match points against world No. 42 Fernando Verdasco Friday to reach the Qatar Open final where he could meet world No. 1 Andy Murray.
Djokovic won a thrilling match 4-6, 7-6 (9-7), 6-3 to progress to his second successive final in Doha but was earlier on the brink of a straight sets defeat as he trailed in the second set tie-break.
But through a combination of typical Djokovic grit and Verdasco errors he saved four match points at 6-2 down in the tiebreak and another when 7-6 behind.
“It’s definitely one of the most exciting matches I have played,” Djokovic said after coming back from five match points down for just the third time in his career.
“I haven’t saved five match points many times. He (Verdasco) should have finished it off.”
Djokovic’s progress to the semifinals had been serene and Friday’s match was the first time the Serb had even dropped a set in Doha in almost two years.
Despite losing his opening service game, the world No. 2 broke back in the eighth game.
But he was then immediately broken back by Verdasco, who not only served out for the set but then broke Djokovic’s opening service game in the second.
Only after closing the tense second set tie-breaker, did Djokovic’s victory seem likely.
His win keeps alive hopes of final clash between the top two players in the world.
Djokovic will play either Murray or the Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych in the final. Their semifinal is later Friday.
“I would like to say tough luck for Fernando, he was clearly the better player for the bigger part of the match and he should have won,” Djokovic said on court.