What a wacky ATP Finals thus far. The first four days saw all straight set matches, that until today when Milos Raonic withdrew with a leg injury before his match against Kei Nishikori. Able-bodied David Ferrer stepped in and the former champion finally created some drama pushing the Japenese to three before falling in the end 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.
“It’s never easy playing against David because he’s very consistent from the baseline,” said Nishikori. “If I want to win, I have to do something to break his tennis. From the second set, I was more aggressive. The final set was almost perfect.”
In the main event, which really should have been called the “pain event”, local favorite Andy Murray felt the hurt like never before coming within two points of being force-fed a dreaded double bagel by rival Roger Federer in front of his home fans.
Federer, the nice guy that he is, had Murray 6-0, 5-0 with Murray serving 0-30 before he eased up and let the Scot salvage some dignity, but it was still a humiliating for Murray to end his year.
“At the end I was happy I didn’t win the second to last game to be quite honest,” said Federer who now leads Murray 12-11. “Yeah, it’s uncomfortable. I don’t know. I don’t like it.
“I had the upper hand from the baseline, which hasn’t always happened against him,” he said. “But I definitely was able to play on my terms. For me, things went very well. I was able to put Andy under pressure very often, and I think the match couldn’t have gone any better for me really.”
Addded Murray, who suffered his joint worst loss of his career (Djokovic at 2007 Miami), “It wasn’t what I was looking for when I went on the court,” said Murray. “Everything he tried tonight came off. He has the ability to do that.
“I now have six, seven weeks before the next tournament. I have time to work on some stuff.”
Ya think, Andy? Good luck not thinking about this loss the next six weeks!
Federer’s win caps a perfect first three week to the ATP Finals. He’ll have a day off before his semi, and by earning the top spot in Group B, it should keep him from having to run into Novak Djokovic on Saturday. Instead, he’ll probably be paired against either Stan Wawrinka or Tomas Berdych.
Nishikori finishes second after an excellent round robin debut. If his wrist is OK, he’ll likely run into Djokovic.
So tomorrow, a forgettable round robin stage mercifully ends with Djokovic against Berdych and then Wawrinka taking on Marin Cilic.
With Djokovic ahead 16-2 against Berdych, it’s awfully tough not to pick the Serb. I think Djokovic wins that, but I actually expect a tight match.
Should Novak win not only will he take Group A but also clinch the year-end No. 1 ranking. So the match has some extra importance.
In the second match I think Stan comes through. He own Cilic 7-2 and a win would likely set up that semi against Roger. And the Croat has really been struggling this week in his debut.
“I just hope he beats Cilic and makes it somehow, whatever that scenario is,” Federer said of Wawrinka. ‘I’d love to play against Stan here in the semis. It would be historic for us to make it for a second consecutive year into the semis. If we play each other, it’s a good thing that one of us is going to go to the finals. It’s an extra match for Stan, in particular. It’s an opportunity for both of us to play a quality match ahead of Davis Cup.
“I’m happy that Stan has also picked up his level. I hope he can qualify and make it special for the weekend.”
Tennis Channel again has the early match. ESPN2 will have the Wawrinka-Cilic affair.
FRIDAY ATP FINALS SCHEDULE
FRI, 14 NOV 2014
DOUBLES A / 12:00 PM
J ROJER/H TECAU VS L KUBOT/R LINDSTEDT
SINGLES A / 02:00 PM
DJOKOVIC VS BERDYCH
DOUBLES A / 05:45 PM
B BRYAN/M BRYAN VS A PEYA/B SOARES
SINGLES A / 08:00 PM
WAWRINKA VS CILIC
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