EY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) A weary but happy Novak Djokovic kissed his hand and patted the stadium court concrete, celebrating his return to the Miami Open final.
In sweltering sunshine Friday, Djokovic won a thrilling tiebreaker to beat David Goffin 7-6 (5), 6-4. The margin was so slim a blown overhead by Goffin might have made all the difference.
Djokovic showed no signs of lingering issues from the back spasms that bothered him in the quarterfinals. He improved to 27-1 this year and is seeking his fourth title in 2016.
He needs one more victory to match Andre Agassi’s tournament record of six men’s titles. His opponent Sunday will be the winner of the second semifinal between No. 6-seeded Kei Nishikori and No. 24 Nick Kyrgios. Both are bidding for their first berth in an ATP Masters final.
Djokovic will try for his 28th Masters title, which would break the record he shares with Rafael Nadal.
Two-time champion Victoria Azarenka plays 2006 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the women’s final Saturday.
Djokovic reached set point in the tiebreaker and worked hard to win it with a frantic 16-shot exchange that typified this entertaining match. He dug out shots in both corners and chased down a pair of volleys, finally switching from defense to offense by flicking a lob too high for the 5-foot-11 Goffin to handle.
That clinched the set, and as fans roared, the world’s No. 1 player walked to his chair with his index finger aloft.
The tiebreaker turned four points earlier, at 4-all. Goffin had an easy putaway overhead near the net and inexplicably hit it directly to a surprised Djokovic, who invented a shot in response, raising the racket strings in front of his face to patty-cake a deep lob. Goffin chased the ball down and the rally continued until Djokovic tapped a drop volley for a winner.
The Serb earned the Key Biscayne title the past two years and has won 15 consecutive matches in the event. He has reached the final of his past 11 Masters tournaments.