Djokovic and Murray to meet in blockbuster Doha final

Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic will square off in an early-season showdown in the final of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open on Saturday.

The duo safely negotiated their semi-final matches on Saturday, although Djokovic had to work much harder for his victory than Murray did.

The Serb faced three consecutive match points against unseeded Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in the second set before he rallied to secure a 4-6, 7-6 (9-7), 6-3 victory.

All seemed to be going according to plan when Djokovic broke in the first set for a 4-2 lead. But a lapse in concentration saw Verdasco pounce with consecutive breaks to turn the tables and go one set up.

The players then exchanged breaks early in the second set, and it stayed on serve until the tie break when Verdasco did superbly to open up a 6-3 lead and give himself three golden chances to close out the match.

Unfortunately for the Spaniard, he lost his next two points on serve and then allowed Djokovic to carve out a lead and convert a set point.

Having escaped from jail in the second set, Djokovic finally took control of the match in the third, with breaks in the fifth and ninth games setting up the hard-fought victory.

Novak Djokovic

In sharp contrast, Murray enjoyed one of his more convincing victories of the tournament to date, looking in control as he defeat 10th seed Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-4. 

There was a momentary lapse when he broke Berdych for a 2-1 lead in the second set only to surrender it in the very next game, but Murray was able to break again in the very next game before holding on from there to serve out the match.

Tomorrow's final promises to be a thrilling encounter, with early bragging rights up for grabs in what is sure to be a season-long battle between the top-ranked duo.