Murray, Djokovic in semis at ExxonMobil Open

Doha, Jan 6 (IANS) The world’s top two tennis players, Britain’s Andy Murray and Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, have advanced to the semi-finals of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open.

Murray, the World No.1, beat Spain’s Nicolas Almagro 7-6 (7-4), 7-5. Djokovic, the defending champion, took out the Czech Republic’s Radek Stepanek 6-3, 6-3 here on Thursday.

“It was obviously very windy and it was blowing across the court a lot. That makes timing pretty difficult,” Murray said. “It was hard for everyone today.”

The 29-year-old Murray, who won the title in Doha in 2008 and 2009, will play Czech Tomas Berdych, the No.3 seed, in the semi-finals.

Berdych beat France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the No.5 seed and 2012 Qatar ExxonMobil Open champion, 7-5, 6-3.

Djokovic, who fell out of the top spot in the rankings in November, seemed pleased with his play after the match.

“I thought in terms of my performance, under the circumstances, I put the level up again, which is great. So everything is going in the right direction,” the 29-year-old Djokovic said.

The Serbian star, who has won 12 Grand Slam titles, will play Spain’s Fernando Verdasco in the semi-finals.

Verdasco beat big-serving Croat Ivo Karlovic, the No. 6 seed, 6-2, 7-5.

“He’s a very complete player,” Djokovic said, referring to Verdasco. “He’s got weapons from the forehand side, big serve (and he’s) very strong.”