Mur­ray beats Wawrinka, advances to semi­fi­nals at ATP fi­nals

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Andy Mur­ray qual­i­fied for the semi-fi­nals and stayed on track to re­tain the world num­ber one rank­ing with vic­tory over Stan Wawrinka at the ATP World Tour Fi­nals.

The Bri­ton only needed one set to reach the last four, but beat the Swiss 6-4 6-2 to top the John McEn­roe Group.

Mur­ray ex­tended his win­ning streak to 22 matches and goes on to face Mi­los Raonic at 14:00 GMT to­day.

Serb No­vak Djokovic faces Ja­pan's Kei Nishikori in the other semi at 20:00.

Djokovic also won all three of his group matches, and Mur­ray must at least match his re­sults at the O2 Arena to end the year at the top of the rank­ings.

The group stage will con­clude when Nishikori takes on Marin Cilic in Fri­day's evening ses­sion at 20:00 GMT, but the Croat can­not over­haul the fifth seed to qual­ify.

Mur­ray with­stood an early bar­rage of win­ners from Wawrinka be­fore tak­ing a grip on the match mid­way through the first set.

"The first set was tight. There weren't many chances," said Mur­ray, 29.

"I man­aged to get the break late in the set. In the sec­ond set I'd al­ready qual­i­fied for the semis, so maybe it was eas­ier for me to play more free than him."

The Scot knew he only re­quired one set, while Wawrinka was re­ally in need of a straight-set vic­tory, lend­ing the con­test an added air of ten­sion from even the early stages.

A healthy con­tin­gent of Swiss fans among the 16,000 spec­ta­tors added to an at­mos­phere more akin to the Grand Slam.

Wawrinka, 31, blasted four win­ners in the open­ing game but could not make the break­through and Mur­ray cap­i­talised in game seven.

A loose back­hand gave Mur­ray a break point and when the Swiss failed to put away a fore­hand lat­ter stages of a pass, the Wim­ble­don cham­pion pounced at the net - prompt­ing Wawrinka to smash his rac­quet in anger.

Mur­ray could have been for­given for a few nerves when three set points then slipped by on the Wawrinka serve, but he served out nerve­lessly in the fol­low­ing game and qual­i­fi­ca­tion was se­cure.

Wawrinka framed a fore­hand to drop serve at the start of the sec­ond and his chal­lenge was all but over, as Mur­ray raced 4-0 clear and closed it out af­ter one hour and 26 min­utes.

Mur­ray's 22-match win­ning run equals the ca­reer-best ef­fort he set ear­lier this year from Queen's Club in June to Cincinnati in Au­gust.

Dur­ing that run he beat Raonic in the Queen's and Wim­ble­don fi­nals, and he has since had an­other win over the Cana­dian in Cincinnati.

Raonic, seeded fourth, won two of his three group matches in London, only los­ing a tight twoset match against Djokovic.

"He's played very well in this event," said Mur­ray, who has won his last eight in a row against Raonic. "These are quick con­di­tions here and it'll be tough.

"He's got a huge serve. It's an amaz­ing sta­dium and at­mos­phere."

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