Indian Wells winner Novak Djokovic continued his torrid U.S. spring run on Wednesday at the Sony Open in Miami, gaining the semifinals after dismissing defending champion Andy Murray 7-5, 6-3.
Murray broke serve once in the second set to go up a break, but it was Djokovic with three breaks and seven aces during the contest, improving his head-to-head to 12-8 career against the Brit.
A point of contention during the match was at 5-6 when Murray was serving. During a point Djokovic reached over the net to hit a ball. Murray argued the point with the chair umpire and Djokovic, who was unsure of the ruling.
“I went and asked Novak, and he told me he was over the net,” Murray said. “Look, it might be my mistake,” Djokovic said. “I think I crossed the net with the racket. I didn’t touch the net.
Maybe the rule is that you are not allowed to pass on his side with the racket. I’m not sure. You tell me.” Murray from that point committed a number of unforced errors during the next three points to lose the game and the set. “Obviously, that distracted him mentally, and after that he gave the set away,” Djokovic said.
In the semis Djokovic will face Kei Nishikori who stunned 2-time champion Roger Federer 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 on an unseasonably cool night in Miami.
A day after wearing down David Ferrer in a final set breaker, Nishokori pulled his second straight Top 5 win and second straight over his idol Federer, overcoming a break down in the second to reach his first Masters semifinal.
“Feeling good, of course, to beat Roger,” said Nishikori. “I thought I really played well, especially in the third. I was hitting both deep and striking well. Everything was going well. There [were a] couple of tough moments, but I was fighting through and happy to win today.”
Federer had been so hot of late, couldn’t put the 24-year-old away in the second when the match was in his hands. And his trusty serve of late was a mess.
“I couldn’t get my serve going ever, especially the slider wide on the deuce was terrible today,” Federer said. “That’s what’s been working so well for me at this tournament.
“I think Kei does really well controlling the ball. He has great technique, especially on the backhand, very simple, very short back swings, so he does a really nice job of having good timing,” he said. “I predict he’s going to be top 10 in a short while.”
In women’s quarterfinal play, Dominika Cibulkova survived three match points in the second set to defeat Agnieszka Radwanska 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3.
The ugly meeting included 51 unforced errors, eight double faults and 10 losses of serve from the winner Cibulkova alone.
Fourteen of the first 18 games featured service breaks. In the end it is the first career Miami semifinal for the Slovak.
“This win really means a lot to me,” said Cibulkova, who will now make her debut in the Top 10 when the next WTA Rankings are released. “It’s always tough to play Aga, but I knew I just had to stay aggressive. If you make some mistakes with Aga you still have to stay aggressive. That’s the way I play, and it’s the only way to beat her. I just had to keep going.”
She will next meet No. 2 Li Na, who subdued No. 11 Caroline Wozniacki 7-5, 7-5.
On court Thursday in Miami will be the women’s semifinals, featuring (1) Serena Williams vs. (4) Maria Sharapova, and (10) Dominika Cibulkova vs. (2) Li Na.
THURSDAY MIAMI SCHEDULE
STADIUM start 1:00 pm
WTA –  S Williams (USA) vs  M Sharapova (RUS)
Not Before 3:00 pm
ATP –  A Dolgopolov (UKR) vs  T Berdych (CZE)
ATP –  R Nadal (ESP) vs  M Raonic (CAN)
Not Before 9:00 pm
WTA –  D Cibulkova (SVK) vs  N Li (CHN)
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