Murray punishes Pouille to set up Dubai final with Verdasco
Andy Murray ensured his epic win over Philipp Kohlschreiber was not in vain as he overcame a first-set dip to earn an ultimately comfortable victory over Lucas Pouille and a place in the Dubai Tennis Championships final.
The world number one was back on court 24 hours after saving seven match points against Kohlschreiber as part of an astounding second-set tie-break that lasted 38 points and defeated the Frenchman 7-5 6-1 in Friday's semi-final.
There were no initial signs of fatigue from Thursday's encounter as Murray mixed up his shots to have Pouille chasing shadows and race into a 3-0 lead.
But a mixture of errors creeping into Murray's game and Pouille settling saw the momentum shift, and a stunning forehand that landed on the line brought up break point in game seven that Pouille converted to rack up four consecutive games.
Murray displayed all his trademark battling qualities to come back, though, quickly breaking back and taking the set with a great backhand pass, having seen one set point go begging after playing a majestic backhand drop-shot that almost span back to his side of the court.
The three-time grand slam champion - who beat Pouille three times in Masters 1000 events last year - was now in full flow and was 5-0 in the second set in no time.
Pouille avoided the bagel, but it proved a mere delay as top seed Murray easily served out the match at the first time of asking.
In the other semi-final, Fernando Verdasco outlasted Robin Haase in a 7-6 (7-5) 5-7 6-1 victory.
Haase, playing at an ATP 500 event for the first time, let a 2-0 lead slip in the first set and a three-game advantage fall away in the second, though he recovered in the latter to level the match.
But Verdasco racked up a third straight win over Haase after dominating the decider and now goes in search of an eighth ATP World Tour title.