American No. 1 John Isner and experienced Czech Tomas Berdych will be out to prevent an anticipated final in Miami between top seed Novak Djokovic and long-time adversary Andy Murray. In-form Isner goes up against Djokovic in the second of Friday’s semifinals at the Miami Open, following another showdown between Berdych and Murray.
Berdych, the eighth seed, actually has a winning record against Murray, but he will be eager to erase the memory of their last meeting. At the Australian Open semifinals a little over two months’ ago, Murray eventually won emphatically in four sets in a hot-tempered encounter for which the buildup had been dominated by talk of Murray’s long-time friend and coach Dani Vallverdu’s switch to become Berdych’s coach. Murray, unsurprisingly, is keen for there to be no repeat of such soap-opera drama this time around.
“For me it was -- I mean, it's over,” he said. “To be honest, it was good to sort of get that match out of the way. I've moved on from that for sure.”
Murray was speaking after prevailing in a final set of his quarterfinal with Dominic Thiem -- his second successive three-set win after battling past Kevin Anderson. Still, victory over the South African provided a special pleasure, as he reached 500 career wins on the ATP Tour. And he is also guaranteed to move above Rafael Nadal and into third place in the ATP rankings next week.
Berdych was already one of the now nine players in the 500-win club, with his dismissal of Juan Monaco in straight sets in the quarterfinals win No. 508 for the 29-year-old. Berdych has bounced back solidly from his disappointment in Melbourne, reaching at least the quarterfinal stage of every tournament he has competed in this year. However, he was comprehensively beaten by Roger Federer in the quarterfinals of Indian Wells last month.
Djokovic claimed the title in California and is now looking to make history by becoming the first man in history to do the Indian Wells-Miami double on three separate occasions. On current form, few would back against him doing just that. Having again showed his phenomenal physical and mental resilience to down Murray in the Australian Open final, the Serbian’s only loss since came in the final of Dubai to Federer. And he came through a tough quarterfinal with the evergreen David Ferrer in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
His next opponent’s 2015 resume had been far less impressive until this week. After losing early in his first three tournaments of the year, Isner hit a nadir when suffering a five-set defeat to the unheralded James Ward en route to Great Britain’s victory over the United States in the Davis Cup. He was also beaten by Djokovic just two weeks ago in Indian Wells. But Djokovic is expecting a tougher test this around, after Isner impressively put together successive wins against Grigor Dimitrov, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori to reach the last four in Miami for the first time.
“Coming into tomorrow's match, I think he's more confident because he's won against Top 10 players back-to-back,” he said, reports the official ATP website. “I'm sure that's going to give him more of an advantage mentally. He's going to try to be aggressive. He's going to try to take his chances... That's what makes him very dangerous.”
Schedule: Andy Murray vs. Tomas Berdych is scheduled to get underway at 1 p.m. ET, with Novak Djokovic vs. John Isner set to start at 7 p.m.
TV channel: ESPN2
Live stream: ESPN3, Watch ESPN