Murray, Djokovic Sqaure Off in All-Teen Indian Wells Semifinal

Posted on March 17, 2007

The next generation of ATP stars loudly pronounced their arrival at the Pacific Life Open on Friday, with 19-year-olds Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray joining 20-year-old Rafael Nadal in the Indian Wells Final Four.

Djokovic advanced to his first career ATP Masters Series semifinal with a 6-3, 6-4 thumping over Spaniard David Ferrer Friday afternoon.

"I think it's good for tennis that the players like us are coming through, and something new is happening," said Djokovic, the youngest of six players aged 21 or under in the Top 20 of the ATP Rankings.

Murray, who is a week older than Djokovic and ranked one spot behind the Serb at No. 14, turned in a quarterfinal drama-filled classic as he battled through a twisted ankle in the evening to defeat the red-hot Tommy Haas 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(8).

After breaking Haas to go up 2-0 in the second set, Murray took a frightening tumble when he lunged for the ball and came down awkwardly on his left ankle. With Murray prone on the floor, the match halted in uncertain limbo as ATP trainer Michal Novotny attended to the injury.

Sporting a bandaged ankle and a scuffed knee, Murray returned to the court and proved his tenacity as he held serve. The Scot proceeded to close out the second set and established the lead in the third as he broke Haas to go up 2-1.

After Haas put the match back on serve at 4-4, Murray wasted four break opportunities in the next game as the match headed towards the tie-break. The German earned the first two match points of the game, at 6-5 and at 7-6 in the tie-break, but failed to deliver. Murray responded with his first match point at 8-7 and closed out the win at 10-8 in two hours and 51 minutes.

"I'm just happy that I won," he said. "It kind of took a while for it to sink in because there were so many ups and downs."

Both Murray and Djokovic will achieve career-high ATP Rankings following the release of the new standings Monday, and the winner of Saturday's semifinal is projected to break into the Top 10.

"I believe that I can reach my goal for this year and still reach the Top 10," said Djokovic. "Really, the other way, I'm not in the hurry anywhere to get some records, results, or to get sooner to Top 10. I think everything will come with time and with experience. I just need to stay focused on my tennis and on my practice and try to improve on some things which I still have to improve on and results will come."

The 19-year-old has lost to only two players this year: to World No. 1 Roger Federer at the Australian Open and in Dubai, and to Russian Mikhail Youzhny in Marseille and Rotterdam. Both Federer and Youzhny lost their 2007 Indian Wells openers after coming to the tournament straight from the title match in Dubai.

Murray moved into sole possesion of the second spot on the list of ATP match wins leaders this season with his 19th match win, just one less than Haas. His three losses have all come against Top 5 opponents: Ivan Ljubicic in Doha, Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open, and Andy Roddick in Memphis.

He fell to Djokovic in their only career meeting, at last October's ATP Masters Series Madrid.