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Nadal wary of Murray challenge in title clash

WORLD No. 1 Rafael Nadal will have to reverse a two-match losing streak against Britain's Andy Murray if he is to clinch his 12th Masters Series title today.

Although the Spanish left-hander leads Murray 5-2 in career meetings, the Scot won their semifinal encounter at the US Open in September and the Rotterdam final earlier this year.

The pair advanced to the final of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, California, with contrasting victories on Saturday, Nadal holding off a late challenge by American Andy Roddick to win 6-4, 7-6 (4) after Murray had beaten an error-prone Roger Federer 6-3, 4-6, 6-1.

"It's going to be a challenge for me and I'm going to try to play my best tennis," Nadal told reporters of the task facing him in the title match. "Only like this am I gonna have chances to win against Andy.

"I enjoy playing tennis and being here and sure, I enjoy being in another final. A Masters Series final is very good news for me."

Top seed Nadal, champion here in 2007, has great respect for world No. 4 Murray who has lost just one match out of 21 this season.

Murray, who has a win-loss record of 3-0 this season against top-10 players, accepts he will have to be at his best to win the final.

"I've started to play better against him lately, but he's obviously one of the toughest players ever," the 21-year-old Scot said. "I have to play some of my best tennis."

Murray, who also won the Doha title this year where he beat Federer in the last four, broke the Swiss twice to sweep through the first set in half an hour.

Although Federer raised his performance to level the match, Murray regained control by breaking in the fourth and sixth games of the third to seal victory in one hour 48 minutes.

Roddick still left Indian Wells with a trophy. He joined Mardy Fish for the doubles final, beating Max Mirnyi and Andy Ram 3-6, 6-1, 14-12 tiebreaker.

Vera Zvonareva, who defeated Victoria Azarenka in the women's semifinals, joined Azarenka to win the women's doubles title, beating Gisela Dulko of Argentina and Shahar Peer of Israel 6-4, 3-6, 10-5 tiebreaker.

Zvonareva will face defending champion Ana Ivanovic in the singles final.


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