Murray mauled as Federer reaches final

CINCINNATI: World number one Roger Federer snapped a four-match losing streak against second-ranked Andy Murray Saturday to book his berth in the Cincinnati Masters final.

Federer downed Murray 6-2, 7-6 (10/8), his first victory against the Scot since his triumph in last year's US Open final.

Since then, Murray had bested the Swiss superstar four times, including twice this year.

In the final, Federer will face fourth-seeded Serb Novak Djokovic who swept past Spain's Rafael Nadal 6-1, 6-4 in the other semi-final.

Federer noted that Murray's victories against him tended to follow a similar pattern, with the Scot rallying and playing stronger as the matches progressed. "To me it was obviously important this time the same doesn't happen again," he said. "I stayed aggressive. I was always looking to make the plays, and I think in the end I deserved to win just because I wasn't scared to go after my shots. And I think I served well today.

"It was just overall a very good performance." Certainly Federer, whose 15 Grand Slam titles include this year's French Open and Wimbledon crowns, gave Murray little room to maneuver this time, never facing a break point in a match lasting an hour and a half.

"If you let Roger play well, then he's very, very difficult to beat," Murray said. "The first set I was leaving the ball short and giving him a lot of second serves to look at and not making a whole a lot of returns, so I couldn't to put any pressure on him.

"He was going for his shots because I was leaving the ball in the middle of the court.

"I was happy that I managed to up my game in the second set," added Murray, who had two chances in the tiebreaker to force a third set.

He couldn't however, and Federer claimed the victory when Murray double-faulted on Federer's second-match point.

"He was not sure if I was going to maybe run around the backhand and thump a big forehand or maybe just chip it in," Federer said of the pressure he was able to apply on Murray's serve. "Maybe making him doubt a little bit brought a double fault out, I don't know." Murray had given Federer his first chance to close it out when he challenged rather than playing a Federer serve - and was wrong.

Murray, who sank to his knees right after issuing the challenge, said he knew he had blown the call.

Federer had clinched the opening set with a successful challenge, after giving himself his third set point against Murray's serve with a textbook overhead smash.

Federer had insisted heading into the match that it held no special significance, despite Murray's winning streak against him. He stuck to that after the victory.

"I'm playing the tournament, not the player," he said. "I'm not going to change my tune saying, 'Now this is going to put me as a massive favorite for the US Open and now Andy is not going to beat me next time. That's not true. He's a wonderful player ... and it takes a great performance to beat him these days." Djokovic, who is last year's runner-up in this event, cruised through the first set and managed an early break in the second en route to the victory. He is now just 5-14 all-time against the second seeded Spaniard.

"This has been one of the best matches in the season so far," Djokovic said. "It came in the great moment just before the US Open. "I think I was trying to be from the first point in the control of the match, be very aggressive, and take the chances on each shot or ball that I had.

"The serve was exceptionally well when it needed to be, so overall I'm very happy." Said Nadal, "He played really well. But I think this match gonna be a good experience for me right now." Federer is seeking his 61st career title on Sunday.