DOHA: Defending champion Novak Djokovic saved five match points against Fernando Verdasco to reach the Qatar ExxonMobil Open final where he will take on world No.1 Andy Murray.
Djokovic won a thrilling match 4-6, 7-6 (9-7), 6-3 to progress to his second successive final at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex here on Friday, but was earlier on the brink of a straight sets defeat as he trailed in the second set tie-break.
Murray swept aside Tomas Berdych in far more straightforward fashion 6-3, 6-4 to secure a 28th consecutive victory, a record which stretches back to September.
Through a combination of typical Djokovic grit and Verdasco errors he saved four match points at 2-6 down in the tiebreak and another when 6-7 behind.
"It's definitely one of the most exciting matches I have played," Djokovic said after coming back from five match points down for just the third time in his career.
"I haven't saved five match points many times. He (Verdasco) should have finished it off."
Djokovic's progress to the semifinals had been serene and Friday's match was the first time the Serb had even dropped a set in Doha in almost two years.
Despite losing his opening service game, the world No.2 broke back in the eighth game.
But he was then immediately broken back by Verdasco, who not only served out for the set but then broke Djokovic's opening service game in the second.
Only after closing the tense second set tie-breaker, did Djokovic's victory seem likely.
Murray, who broke Berdych early in each set said the final would be "a great match to look forward to".
"It's a great test tomorrow. To start the year it's great to play against one of the best in the world."
The match will start at 6pm local time.
It will be the 36th match between the pair.
Djokovic has historically had the upper hand, winning 24 against Murray's 11, but the latter won the last time they played at the ATP World Tour Finals in London in November.
Andy Murray (GBR x 1) bt Tomas Berdych (CZE x 3) 6-3, 6-4
Novak Djokovic (SRB x2) bt Fernando Verdasco (ESP) 4-6, 7-6 (9-7), 6-3
Jeremy Chardy/Fabrice Martin (FRA) bt Vasek Pospisil (CAN)/Radek Stepanek (CZE) 6-4, 7-6 (7-3)