Andy Murray reached his first Masters Series final with victory over Ivo Karlovic here last night. The British No1 came through 6-4 6-4 to set up a meeting with either Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic today.
Karlovic defeated Roger Federer earlier in the week but Murray, 21, looked confident throughout despite the searing heat, recovering after dropping serve early on to win comfortably. Murray clearly enjoys the pace of the Karlovic serve and has few fears about the rest of his game, saying before the match that the Croatian "doesn't return so well".
He might have had a shock, then, after earning a break point in game one only to see an ace scream past, before Karlovic made him pay with a break of his own in game two. But Murray has proved in the past that he can break his serve and he did so again, chasing down a volley to get back to 1-2.
The confidence was apparent as Murray hit a superb cross-court forehand pass followed by a sharp backhand volley on his way to breaking again for 4-3, and he drew gasps from the crowd with a stunning lob over his 6ft 10in opponent when serving out the set.
There was not much doubt who the better player was once the ball was in play and Karlovic's lifeline – his serve – looked less and less effective as Murray set about dismantling it. Murray kept up the pressure as the second set began, forcing another seven break points in the opening game with some excellent all-court play and deft lobs before clinching it on the eighth as Karlovic was forced to volley wide.
Just as the Briton appeared to be strolling to a very comfortable win, his concentration slipped and Karlovic got back on level terms. But Murray was quickly back in the groove on the return of serve, grabbing his fourth break of the match to go 5-4 up before serving out to 15.
Murray will face an altogether tougher challenge if he is to win his first title at the elite Masters Series level, which stands just below the four Grand Slams.
Like Nadal, who is guaranteed to dethrone Federer to become world No 1 this month, Serbia's Jelena Jankovic will also take top ranking for the first time on 11 August, the WTA has confirmed. The 23-year-old will replace her compatriot, Ana Ivanovic, who took top spot as recently as 9 June.
Jankovic looked to have missed her chance with a surprise loss to Dominika Cibulkova in Montreal on Friday. That defeat stopped her from taking over the No 1 position tomorrow but she will have an eight-point lead by next week.
Jankovic will have 3,620 points to Ivanovic's 3,612 on 11 August, making her the 18th No 1 in the history of the WTA Tour. "Since I was a young girl it's been my dream to become No1 in the world," said Jankovic.
"When you get older, at least one day you can say you were No1 and no one can take that away from you. You are in the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour history books and it's a great achievement."