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