Murray Toughs Out Roanic In Epic ATP Finals SF, Sets Up Dream Final With Djokovic
by Sean Randall | November 19th, 2016, 8:57 pm
  • 11 Comments

Andy Murray showed some serious heart and some serious stones Saturday at the ATP Finals in London winning one of the best matches of the season, saving a match point and beating Milos Raonic 5-7, 7-6(5), 7-6(9) in no less than 3 hours, 38 minutes.

Murray actually came out a little flat, I felt, allowing the Canadian to really dominate play not just with his booming serve but also surprisingly from the baseline. And that power and consistency pushed Murray farther off the baseline. And that’s usually a good thing.

After dropping the opening set thanks to a double fault down break point and then surrendering an early break to start the second, Murray dug in deep and slowly found the range on the Raonic serve. He battled back, got back on serve.

At 5-5 in the second set breaker, Raonic had the serve and stood two points from the match. Murray, though, responded winning the last two points with an exquisite drop shot followed by a service winner to force the decider.

Murray immediately saved a couple break points to start the third, but Raonic wasn’t fading. Not yet. Then at 4-4 a weary looking Raonic was broken at love. Murray would serve for a spot in the final. It seemed over, it wasn’t.

Inexplicably, Murray failed to serve it out at 5-4 and again after re-breaking at 6-5. All told, there were four straight breaks leading up to the final set breaker!!

Over three-and-half hours of tennis had been played, both guys were running on empty, but neither would quit. We were headed for a tiebreaker.

Raonic recovered from 5-3 deficit then saved three match points before getting one himself at 9-10. Murray got Raonic on the run and finished him off with a volley winner, then an forehand error from Raonic into the net sealed.

Exhale.

At 3-hours, 38-minutes it was the longest 3-set match of the year, and the longest at that distance (with breakers) for either player in their careers. And it was one of the best matches.

“It was one of the tougher matches I played this year,” Murray said. “It was not easy… obviously with it being very long, but also mentally tiring as well.”

To my surprise, Raonic was for some time out rallying Murray. And he was, as I thought, pounding that serve. But the end was just remarkable, with four breaks of serve and Murray having to win it on his fourth match point.

It finished as one of the best matches of the year. And credit to Murray for pulling that out with so much riding on the win and to do it in front of his home fans. He wasn’t playing his best – made lots of errors, but he when it counted he came up with the goods.

“I fought hard. I fought very hard this week. I have also the last few months, too,” Murray said. “It would have been easy today when I was behind to have gone away a little bit, but I didn’t… Even after serving for the match twice, having a bunch of match points in the tie-break, still stayed tough, chased balls down, fought as best as I could.”

Great effort by Raonic also, who showed some variety using that backhand slice with effectiveness. Though I’d still like to see more emotion and desire out of him.

In the losing effort, after the Nishikori feel Raonic will finish at No. 3, so there’s some good news.

Up next was Novak Djokovic against Nishikori. And it never stood a chance in rivaling the first semifinal, mostly because Djokovic was seeing the ball like a basketball and Nishikori had little to offer. In just over an hour, Djokovic cruised into his fifth straight year-end finals destroying Nishikori 6-1, 6-1.

“The best performance of the tournament came really at the right time,” said Djokovic who has now won 22 of his last 23 matches at the ATP Finals. “Everything kind of clicked together tonight. I felt really well. I started with a great pace, great concentration, dictating the play, mixing up the pace. Everything was going well. I am very pleased.

“Kei was not close to his best. The fact that he played late last night, it’s been a long year for him and a long tournament, so he was probably a little bit tired. Nevertheless, I tried to make myself present on the court, make him feel that I’m playing to the last shot, which I did. Even at 6-1, 5-1, I was really committed.”

Nishikori had played that tough 3-set loss to Murray Wednesday, then three sets yesterday against Marin Cilic, and against someone like Djokovic you have to be at full strength.

“Today I think Novak played pretty awesome,” said Nishikori. “There’s nothing I can complain about. Physically, I just wasn’t ready to play against Novak.”

It was one of the best years for me,” Nishikori added. “I played a lot of matches, beating the top players a lot. I got a lot of confidence this year. This is not the finish what I wanted, but still I think it was a good year.”

So, one more match left. What a way to finish the year.


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11 Comments for Murray Toughs Out Roanic In Epic ATP Finals SF, Sets Up Dream Final With Djokovic

jane Says:

should be a cracker. unfortunately i’ve been able to watch so little…

Djokovic: ‘I’m honoured to be part of history. This is the first time two players are deciding ranking in final match.’

Djokovic on him and Murray: ‘It seems like a movie scenario. Like a script. It’s a long story. A bromance.’ ;)


Humble Rafa Says:

There has never been a better opportunity for Mr. Lady Forehand to prove that he is a real choker.


skeezer Says:

“Djokovic on him and Murray: ‘It seems like a movie scenario. Like a script. It’s a long story. A bromance.’ Bromance? Ewww….Cough, hackle, hurl and dig a snotter.


jane Says:

skeezer, there was a funny thing recently where rafa made an analogy between his relationship with fed and a wife. ;)

https://twitter.com/zbrain/status/794860456473194500


Wog Boy Says:

There is truth in what Rafa is saying, just that Roger wasn’t really his wife, but rather his….well, the word starts with “b”…


Margot Says:

And yet another “doublethink” award goes to HR.
#proud


Danica Says:

I am reading that Andy was given a violation for foul language. Wonder whether the Mirror journalist brought that up and continued nagging him.


Margot Says:

Danica, unless a player swears AT the umpire or lines people, I don’t agree with a violation.
Have these prissy people ever been in a school playground or a bus?
The F word is used as an ordinary adjective these days, everywhere.
And don’t get me started at the double standards operating. Simon, Ferrer and many others swear all the time, but not in English.


Danica Says:

But I am sure that would be brought up had Nole did it. He would be asked what he was saying and why he wouldn’t repeat it. It happened before.


J-Kath Says:

Andy got really nasty with himself, he shouted: “Why would you rush when you’ve had 14 hours to get ready”?

Don’t know if there was a second “violation”.


Danica Says:

J-Kath,
I really don’t know. I didn’t see the match but read that there was a violation for expletives. I know that f-word is a common release in frustration and that players are usually not reprimanded for that. That’s why I thought that it must have been something more to it. But like I said, the two violations were treated differently by the members of the press.

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