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Murray and Djokovic remain on collision course

Murray and Djokovic remain on collision course

Tennis' big two Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic remain on course for an early-season showdown at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha after both men won their quarter-final matches on Thursday.

Former World No 1 Djokovic was the first to advance, dispatching Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-3 after just over 90 minutes on court.

Stepanek did well to regain an early lost break after Djokovic had raced into a 3-0 lead in the first set, but he failed to consolidate his good work, allowing his opponent to break back again immediately.

That gave Djokovic a 5-3 lead which he soon turned into a one-set lead, and with two more breaks of serve following in the second set, one in the very first game and the other with Stepanek serving to stay in the match at 3-5, the contest was over pretty quickly.

Next up for Djokovic is Fernando Verdasco, who beat big-serving Ivo Karlovic 6-2, 7-5 earlier in the day.

World No 1 Murray, meanwhile, continued to make slightly harder work of his matches at the tournament, but still did enough to advance as he defeated Nicolas Almagro 7-6 (7-4), 7-5 in two hours and 11 minutes.

Almagro lost his serve in the very first game of the match, but had three opportunities to break in the fourth game, and though he failed to convert them all, he made no mistake two games later with his fourth opportunity.

It was left to a tie-break to decide the first set, with Murray using all his talent and experience to come out on top.

The second set again saw Murray go a break up only for Almagro to return the favour, but this time instead of another tie-break, the Scot was able to pounce with his opponent serving at 5-5, squandering three break points during a marathon 11th game but finally succeeding with his fourth to give himself an opportunity to serve out the match.

Almagro had an opportunity to prolong the contest when he earned a break point in the next game, but Murray saved it before converting his second match point to seal the hard-fought victory.

Awaiting the Wimbledon champion in the semi-finals is the winner of the match between Tomas Berdych and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

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