Way back in Dubai 2008, it took a final tie-break to separate them, in the Paris Masters previous year, it was a close 6-3, 6-7 (5), 7-5 win for the Briton, and on his way to a first Wimbledon title in 2013, Murray was two sets to love down to the Spaniard in the quarter-finals.
Fernando Verdasco made the final of the Dubai Open with a 7-6 (5), 5-7, 6-1 win over Robin Haase on Friday. Murray won the semifinals match 7-5, 6-1.
Murray will next meet French seventh seed Lucas Pouille who defeated Russian qualifier Evgeny Donskoy - the man who stunned Federer - 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (7/2).
Murray agreed the match had been something out of the ordinary.
However, Verdasco took advantage of another wayward Murray service game to claim the break and build a 3-1 lead.
Verdasco then completely lost the plot in the second set, losing his serve twice as Murray finished the match in style with another brilliant service game.
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"This week has given me great momentum which I hope to use going to Indian Wells and Miami". "I've never played a tie-break like that ever, not in juniors, nothing has been close to that", he said. Pouille has won many big matches, including his win over Rafael Nadal at the US Open past year, but what he needs to show is better management of his weaker shot - the backhand.
One particular shot to save the first match point of the tie breaker was described by Murray's former coach Mark Petchey as "the best of his career", while the breaker went on for so long that the players and umpires lost track of protocol and forgot to switch ends.
"I played nearly a flawless match", Verdasco said.
"Obviously he doesn't have many weaknesses because he's No 1 in the world".
"It was a really tough match, I needed to be there till the last point", Verdasco said. I maybe haven't started as well as I would have liked but it's been a good start to the year. "So I will just try to keep fighting".
"He had a great a great match with Novak [Djokovic] in Doha".