Mur­ray be­gins Tour Fi­nals with Marin Cilic show­down

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Andy Mur­ray will face Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic in the ATP Tour Fi­nals group stage as the newly crowned world num­ber one looks to win the pres­ti­gious tour­na­ment for the first time. Mur­ray has never been past the semi­fi­nals at the sea­son-end­ing event, but the Scot ar­rives at Lon­don’s O2 Arena with a huge in­cen­tive to take the ti­tle.

The 29-year-old shat­tered No­vak Djokovic’s 122-week reign at top of the world rank­ings over the week­end by reach­ing the fi­nal of the Paris Masters.

To en­sure his first taste of the num­ber one po­si­tion lasts more than two weeks, Mur­ray must match or bet­ter Djokovic’s per­for­mance at the Tour Fi­nals, a tour­na­ment the Serb has won for the last four years. Af­ter toast­ing his suc­cess while fly­ing back to Lon­don on a pri­vate jet af­ter win­ning the Paris Masters on Sun­day, Mur­ray was back to busi­ness on Mon­day as he learned his ini­tial op­po­nents in the Tour Fi­nals. Mur­ray has had mixed re­sults against his group ri­vals this year, los­ing to Ja­pan’s Nishikori in the US Open quar­ter­fi­nals af­ter beat­ing him at the Rio Olympics and in the Davis Cup.

He has lost three of his last four matches against world num­ber three Wawrinka, in­clud­ing in last year’s group stage, although he did beat the Swiss in their only meet­ing this year in the French Open semi­fi­nals. Mur­ray was also beaten by for­mer US Open cham­pion Cilic in their last meet­ing, in the Cincin­nati fi­nal, but he de­feated the Croa­t­ian in the Queen’s Club semi-fi­nals in June. Af­ter win­ning Wim­ble­don for a sec­ond time and then tak­ing the sec­ond Olympic sin­gles gold of his ca­reer, Mur­ray can cap a dream year by lift­ing the Tour Fi­nals tro­phy.

“Yes­ter­day was a great day, to­day has just been a nor­mal day at home with the fam­ily,” said Mur­ray, whose first match of the Tour Fi­nals will be against Cilic next Mon­day. “Once you’re out on the court you don’t think about your rank­ing. You’re play­ing against the top eight play­ers in the world. I look for­ward to get­ting out there and play­ing at the O2.

“I’ll try and take a few days rest now, start hit­ting again on Thurs­day. I need a few days’ break. “It will be one big push for all the guys. Ev­ery­one has played a lot of ten­nis and hope­fully ev­ery­one can play well.” Af­ter look­ing in­vin­ci­ble in the first half of the year, Djokovic, who faces Mi­los Raonic, Gael Mon­fils and Do­minic Thiem in the other group, sud­denly finds him­self play­ing sec­ond fid­dle to Mur­ray.

The reign­ing Aus­tralian and French Open cham­pion will play in the first match of the Tour Fi­nals on Sun­day against ris­ing Aus­trian star Thiem.

Draw for the ATP World Tour fi­nals group stage made in Lon­don on Mon­day (x de­notes seed­ing): Group McEnroe Andy Mur­ray (GBR x1) Stan Wawrinka (SUI x3) Kei Nishikori (JPN x5) Marin Cilic (CRO x7) Group Lendl No­vak Djokovic (SRB x2) Mi­los Raonic (CAN x4) Gael Mon­fils (FRA x 6) Do­minic Thiem (AUT x8).—

Andy Mur­ray

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