Mur­ray over­comes Nishikori to im­prove to 2-0 in ATP Fi­nals

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Andy Mur­ray sur­vived the long­est three-set match in ATP Fi­nals his­tory by out­last­ing Kei Nishikori 6-7 (9), 6-4, 6-4 and post­ing a 21st con­sec­u­tive win yes­ter­day.

Top-ranked Mur­ray needed 3 hours, 20 min­utes to sep­a­rate him­self from Nishikori. The first set alone took 85 min­utes.

It is the first time since the tour­na­ment moved to the O2 Arena in 2009 that Mur­ray has won both of his open­ing two group matches, and he is in pole po­si­tion to reach the semi­fi­nals for the first time in four years.

That could come later Wed­nes­day if Marin Cilic de­feats Stan Wawrinka.

No­vak Djokovic is al­ready through, and de­feat against Nishikori would have hurt Mur­ray's chances of hold­ing onto top spot in the rank­ings.

The Scot, who was given an­other stand­ing ova­tion when he walked on court, said: “Kei was mak­ing me run a lot, he was dic­tat­ing a bunch of the points. I man­aged to get enough breaks to win it.

“That's what you work for, is these mo­ments in places like this. It was an amaz­ing at­mos­phere.

“I feel OK right now. It's nor­mally the next day when you feel stiff and sore, but there's hope­fully three days left in the sea­son and I'll give my best to get through as many matches as I can.”

For all of Mur­ray's achieve­ments this year, this was the first time he played a top-five op­po­nent since June, when he lost to Djokovic in the French Open fi­nal.

Nishikori was one of only three play­ers to beat him in the in­ter­ven­ing five months, edg­ing a fiveset­ter in the US Open quar­ter­fi­nals.

Nishikori also won their only pre­vi­ous meet­ing here two years ago, and was im­pres­sive in beat­ing an al­beit lack­lus­ter Wawrinka on Mon­day.

But he had to save a set point at 6-5 down, and needed five set points to take the opener on a wide fore­hand by Mur­ray.

Mur­ray im­me­di­ately broke to start the sec­ond. Nishikori tied it at 4-4. But Mur­ray broke straight back, and had to save two set points to force a de­cider.

Mur­ray has played more matches than ever this sea­son and he looked drained, but Nishikori's de­ci­sion-mak­ing was clouded by fa­tigue, and lost his serve in the third game.

When a dou­ble fault made it 4-1 to Mur­ray, the top seed fi­nally had some breath­ing space and the end was in sight.

Nishikori showed com­mend­able re­solve to re­trieve one break, but Mur­ray served out at the sec­ond time of ask­ing.

Ten­nis Hall of Fame mem­ber Gard­nar Mul­loy dies at 102

Gard­nar Mul­loy, a mem­ber of the In­ter­na­tional Ten­nis Hall of Fame who won 129 U.S. na­tional ti­tles and played com­pet­i­tively into his 90s, has died at age 102.

The long­time Mi­ami res­i­dent died Mon­day night, said his wife, Jackie.

Mul­loy won five Grand Slam dou­bles ti­tles, was ranked No. 1 in the United States in 1952 and started the Univer­sity of Mi­ami ten­nis pro­gram. He swept United States Ten­nis As­so­ci­a­tion grand slams in three age groups: 45s, 70s and 80s.

Mul­loy had plenty of per­son­al­ity, too. Out­spo­ken, opin­ion­ated and oc­ca­sion­ally ill-man­nered, he was ten­nis' ugly Amer­i­can be­fore John McEn­roe was even born — and end­lessly en­ter­tain­ing.

“Gard­nar was a real trea­sure to our sport,” said Stan Smith, pres­i­dent of the In­ter­na­tional Ten­nis Hall of Fame. “His per­son­al­ity was as charis­matic off the court as he was fiery on it. He was al­ways great fun to be around, and he will be missed.”

Mul­loy, who served in the Navy dur­ing World War II, was 31 when the war ended, and his ten­nis ca­reer had barely be­gun. At age 43, he won the Wim­ble­don dou­bles ti­tle with Budge Patty and helped the U.S. Davis Cup team reach the fi­nal.

He would have turned 103 on Nov. 22.

“I was older than most of the play­ers of my era, and usu­ally I was in bet­ter shape than them,” he said in a 1997 in­ter­view. “I won al­most all of my five-set matches. I didn't drink or smoke, and I watched my diet.”

In his 80s, Mul­loy was ten­nis di­rec­tor emer­i­tus on posh Fisher Is­land.

He gave half a dozen lessons a week, charg­ing $30 for 30 min­utes, and his hit­ting part­ners then in­cluded Boris Becker and Jim Courier.

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