Mur­ray marks rise to the top with Tour Fi­nals romp

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Andy Mur­ray cel­e­brated his rise to the top of the world rank­ings with a 6-3, 6-2 vic­tory over Marin Cilic on Mon­day as the Scot made a strong start to his bid to win the ATP Tour Fi­nals.

Mur­ray was of­fi­cially con­firmed as the first Bri­ton to reach num­ber one last Mon­day and he marked his first match since that his­toric mo­ment by dis­patch­ing Cilic at the pres­ti­gious sea­son-end­ing event at Lon­don’s O2 Arena.

The 29-year-old took only 90 min­utes to ex­tend his re­mark­able win­ning streak to 20 matches as he looks to add to the four con­sec­u­tive ti­tles he won in Bei­jing, Shang­hai, Vi­enna and Paris.

It was ex­actly the start Mur­ray needed be­cause to guar­an­tee end­ing 2016 in pole po­si­tion, he must win the Tour Fi­nals ti­tle for the first time, with any­thing less than that giv­ing No­vak Djokovic the chance to over­haul him de­pend­ing on the de­posed num­ber one’s own re­sults.

“It’s a great at­mos­phere and I think I played one of my best matches here. I’m go­ing to keep work­ing hard to give peo­ple mo­ments like this,” Mur­ray said. “I have con­fi­dence from win­ning matches and I was a lit­tle bit more solid when I had op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

Mur­ray has en­joyed an in­cred­i­ble 11 months in which he has won Wim­ble­don for the sec­ond time, claimed a sec­ond Olympic sin­gles gold medal and be­come a fa­ther for the first time.

So it was fit­ting that Mur­ray’s first ap­pear­ance as the world’s best player came within an hour’s drive of his fam­ily home in Sur­rey.

While Mur­ray has amassed a com­bined seven ti­tles across Lon­don at Wim­ble­don and Queen’s, he has failed to reach the fi­nal of the Tour Fi­nals in six at­tempts and this was one of his bet­ter dis­plays at the O2.

Mur­ray emerged to huge cheers from the sell-out 17,000 crowd but, clearly in busi­nesslike mood, he re­sponded only with a shy wave.

TURNED THE TA­BLES

Life at the top car­ries the added bur­den of mo­ti­vated op­po­nents keen to take down the main man, but Mur­ray has al­ways rel­ished a chal­lenge and he quickly stamped out the threat of an up­ris­ing from Cilic.

He staved off two break points to hold serve in the first game and then turned the ta­bles to break for a 2-0 lead when Cilic blasted a back­hand into the net.

Mur­ray was hav­ing a few prob­lems lo­cat­ing his serve and Cilic break back in the next game, but the Wim­ble­don cham­pion re­sponded with another break of his own to re­main in charge.

Cilic was sport­ing an ex­traor­di­nar­ily lurid pair of shorts that looked more suited to the beach and his er­ror-strewn play sug­gested he was al­ready think­ing of his hol­i­day plans as Mur­ray closed out the set with ease.

Mur­ray pressed home his ad­van­tage with a pair of sub­lime win­ners to break in the fifth game of the sec­ond set and another break in the sev­enth meant it wasn’t long be­fore he was soak­ing up the ap­plause of his fans.

In the other match in Mur­ray’s group, Kei Nishikori avenged his painful US Open loss to Stan Wawrinka as the Ja­panese star routed the world num­ber three 6-2, 6-3.

Nishikori was de­nied a sec­ond Grand Slam fi­nal ap­pear­ance in Septem­ber when Wawrinka de­feated him in the US Open semi-fi­nals and the world num­ber five got his own back with a dom­i­nant dis­play.

“I was very solid from the first game and very con­fi­dent. I played a good game to­day,” Nishikori said.

Florida-based Nishikori har­bours hopes of over­haul­ing Wawrinka in the race to fin­ish the year in third place in the ATP rank­ings and this vic­tory keeps him on course.

“That is my goal for this week, to win matches and reach num­ber three. I see the op­por­tu­nity to go up the rank­ings and I’ve been play­ing well so I hope to keep it up,” Nishikori said. —AFP

—AFP

LON­DON: Bri­tain’s Andy Mur­ray re­acts af­ter win­ning his round robin stage men’s sin­gles match against Croa­tia’s Marin Cilic on day two of the ATP World Tour Fi­nals ten­nis tour­na­ment in Lon­don on Mon­day. Mur­ray won the match 6-3, 6-2.

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