By Alexandra Willis at the O2 Arena
25 November 2010
When Andy Murray strode onto the O2 Arena’s painted wooden court wearing the same white shirt that had seemed to cause him such angst against Roger Federer on Tuesday, one could be forgiven for feeling a little queasy. That sickness turned to actual angst, as the British No.1 began playing the same lacklustre tennis that had seen him fall at Federer’s feet. Given the unique round robin nature of this Barclays ATP World Tour Finals event, all the Scot needed to do to earn safe passage to the semi-finals was to win a set, or failing that, seven games. For a whisker of a moment it looked as though he might be denied at the death for the second year in a row.
David Ferrer, an energetic, never-say-die type of player, found himself out-slicing and out-dicing Murray, knocking up a 2-0 lead in the opening exchanges. But as the Spaniard earned himself two points for a 3-0 lead, Murray’s game caught alight for the first time since he out-played Robin Soderling so magnificently on Sunday.
With both players trading heavy balls from the back of the court in a manner usually seen on clay, Murray survived the two break points, re-found his first serve, and never looked back. By the fifth game, his forehand and backhand returns re-appeared from the brief hiatus they had been on on Tuesday, and by the seventh game, the Brit was producing his usual brand of tennis, scampering and scuttling to retrieve smashes, turn defence into attack, and reel off 21 winners. Winning six games on the trot, Murray took the set 6-2 in 31 minutes, and assured his place in the semi-finals of the season-ending finale for the second time in his career.
Needing now just to complete the match unharmed, the duo exchanged breaks early on the second set, before Murray made what proved to be a decisive break at 2-2. Surviving a brief barrage of Spanish attack while serving to consolidate, Murray held serve, broke again, and served out the match 6-2, 6-2, after an hour and nine minutes.
“I knew before I needed to win one set and David needed to win comfortably so it’s quite a strange position to be in,” the Scot said afterwards. “David started well but I returned well to get myself back into it. It feels good.”
“It was a good match tonight, I played well. Returned well. To win against someone as tough as David with that score line, must have played well.”
“I thought Andy played a very good match,” admitted Ferrer. “I served very bad all this week. And with these players, is very difficult. If I don’t serve good, is difficult. I don’t think I was focused in the match with Andy. I tried my best. But today I had a lot of problems, physically, mentality. Is difficult to play with these guys. If I am not perfect, 100 per cent, is impossible.”
Murray reached the semi-finals of the Tennis Masters Cup, as the World Tour Finals was formerly known, in Shanghai in 2008, where he lost to Nikolay Davydenko. He will meet the winner of Group A, likely to be Rafael Nadal, in this year’s semi-finals on Saturday. Tomorrow sees Nadal play Tomas Berdych, and Novak Djokovic take on Andy Roddick for the final two semi-final spots. Roger Federer qualified after a comprehensive 7-6, 6-3 defeat of Robin Soderling.
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