TENNIS : Andy Murray will need to beat Fernando Verdasco on Thursday to reach the semi-finals of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals after going down 3-6 6-3 6-1 to Roger Federer in Tuesday’s blockbuster Group A clash at London’s O2 Arena.
Andy Murray will need to beat Fernando Verdasco on Thursday to reach the semi-finals of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals after going down 3-6 6-3 6-1 to Roger Federer in Tuesday’s blockbuster Group A clash at London’s O2 Arena.
The British number one played superbly to take the first set but Federer was in terrific form and Murray simply had no answer in the second half of the match. Victory means Federer is certain to finish the year as world number one.
Federer and Murray had met three times this year, with the Scot triumphing twice, while he also beat the Swiss star in the round-robin stages of this tournament last year. That defeat meant Federer, who won the end-of-season event four times from five successive finals between 2003 and 2007, failed to qualify for the semi-finals.
The noise level was a big step up from anything heard at the O2 so far in the tournament and they were seeing tennis to match the atmosphere.
Murray was taken to deuce in the fifth game of the first set but kept his nerve, and three points later he found himself at 0-40 on the Federer serve, taking the second opportunity.
The 22-year-old then clinched the set three games later, despite a wobble that saw him pulled back from 40-0 to deuce.
It seemed inevitable Federer would eventually break through and so it proved in the sixth game of the second set, the world number one stringing together a series of sublime points.
Despite the best efforts of his opponent, the 28-year-old duly served out the set to level an enthralling match.
The decider promised to be a thriller but Murray’s hopes of booking that last-four spot – which became possible on Tuesday following Juan Martin del Potro’s victory over Fernando Verdasco – took a blow when he slipped to 0-40 in the third game. And this time there was to be no escape, Federer chipping and charging on his third opportunity to force the error from Murray.
Federer then claimed the double break and at 4-1 there was no way back for the 22-year-old. With the backing of the majority of his home crowd, Murray battled hard in an attempt to at least force Federer to serve it out, but the man from Basle was not to be denied and he clinched victory on his third match point.