Novak Djokovic will resume his rivalry with world number one Rafael Nadal after overcoming the tough challenge posed by British number one Andy Murray to progress to the finals of the Rome Masters.
In doing so, he also extended his magnificent unbeaten run to 38 matches. However, it took some doing. After an easy first set, he was stunned by Murray's comeback. The Scot even served for match at 5-4 in the third set only to see a double fault prove costly. In the end, Djokovic won the pulsating encounter 6-1 3-6 7-6 (7-2).
It sets up an interesting final meeting with top seed Rafael Nadal after the Spaniard beat Frenchman Richard Gasquet 7-6 6-1 earlier in the day.
Later on, Djokovic admitted that he was feeling the strain, physically, of his unbeaten run this year.
He said, There's no secret that physically it's catching up with me definitely. I've been playing the most matches of any players this year, next to Nadal, but playing at a high intensity and wanting to win every match.
It's normal and natural that you get tired or exhausted after matches like this, it's nothing new to me.
It was evident as the Serb had to endure a strain in his right calf as the match wore on. The match lasted a total of three hours and two minutes and it will prove to be slightly advantageous Nadal on Sunday's final.
Whoever saw the match knows that the winner was not decided until the last point, he said. It was a very close match, a fantastic match to be a part of. He was playing really well, serving really well, especially in the second set.
He put a lot of pressure on my service games, he wasn't making a lot of unforced errors, I had to earn my points.
Despite the loss, Murray had reasons to feel confident.
I played my best tennis against the best player in the world at the moment, said Murray. It's always very physical against Novak because he moves well. I had chances to win and probably should have done.