Tennis: Verdasco salutes Murray's '700 lives'

Dubai, United Arab Emirates | AFP |by Scott WILLIAMS -

Fernando Verdasco summed up the challenge of facing world number one Andy Murray in Saturday's Dubai final by claiming the Wimbledon and Olympic champion has "700 lives".

  The 33-year-old Spaniard has only defeated the British star once in 13 meetings and admitted he was stunned to see the top seed survive after saving seven match points in his quarter-final win over Philipp Kohlschreiber.
"Andy is number one in the world -- what can I say?," said world number 35 Verdasco, who made the final with a 7-6 (7/5), 5-7, 6-1 win over Dutchman Robin Haase.
Murray, meanwhile, recovered from his Kohlschreiber epic to defeat seventh-seeded Frenchman Lucas Pouille 7-5, 6-1 in his semi-final.
"Andy was unbelievable against Kohlschreiber, but you know how Andy is. He hasn't got seven lives, he has 700 lives. That's why he's number one in the world."
Murray showed no signs of weariness to ease into Saturday's final where he will be chasing his 45th career title. He also reached the final in Doha in January where he lost to Novak Djokovic.
"It was tough, it wasn't the best match," Murray said after seeing off Pouille. 
"A lot of mistakes. But there was some good stuff in there, neither of us served well at the beginning.
"I think potentially the match yesterday had something to do with that - sometimes if your legs are a little bit tired, the serve is one of the first things that goes.
"As the match went on, I started serving a bit better and that helped me. The first set was very important to win after how the matches went yesterday."
For Murray, a leisurely first set took 67 minutes to complete on Friday, with Pouille coming from a break down but losing serve for 4-4 on a double-fault. 
Murray broke in the final game to secure the match lead. The Scot then shifted up a gear, and ran out the winner with a 27-minute second set.
Murray's win improved his 2017 record to 11-2. He lost the 2012 final in Dubai to Roger Federer, his best performance at the event.
The Wimbledon champion returned to the court just 24 hours after his epic quarter-final win over Kohlschreiber which saw the world number one save seven match points in a 31-minute, 38-point second set tiebreak.
Verdasco won his last trophy 11 months ago on clay in Bucharest and was a Doha semi-finalist at the start of the season.
"It was a really tough match, I needed to be there till the last point," Verdasco said. 
"I'm really happy to be in the final, to win this match. I'll just will try to recover and to be as ready as possible for tomorrow."

Saturday, March 4th 2017

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