ATP World Tour Finals: Murray wary of Nadal threat
British number one Andy Murray admits he does not feel confident in beating probable semi-final opponent Rafael Nadal at the ATP World Tour Finals on Saturday.
Following his straight sets win over David Ferrer on Thursday night, Murray said: “He’s obviously the best player in the world. He’s been playing unbelievably well and I don’t seem to beat these guys in the big matches. So I’m going to have to play my best tennis against him to win.
“I don’t know how many times I need to keep saying it. I’m playing with the two best players of all time in front of me.”
Earlier, Murray recovered from a disastrous start to seal his place in the final four of the ATP World Tour finals by Ferrer 6-2 6-2 with consummate ease.
He was broken at the first attempt and struggled to land his first serve again. Ferrer, the seventh seed, displayed his usual tenacity as Murray sprayed the ball around erratically.
However, the 23-year-old Scot responded superbly by immediately breaking back and taking the initiative. He then found his range and started to draw Ferrer across the court.
Murray won six games in a row to take the set and book his place in the semi-finals thanks to Roger Federer’s victory earlier in the day.
In the second set he began to show flashes of his best tennis, mixing up heavy groundstrokes with discreet drop shots. His net play was exemplary, winning 13 of 16 attempts as Ferrer was hustled out of the match.
The turning point came in game six of the second set with Murray leading 3-2. Ferrer managed to force an impatient Murray into a series of errors but was unable to convert three break points. Murray then produced some scintillating backhands to overpower the Spaniard. And from here on in Ferrer appeared resigned to defeat and Murray duly obliged by serving out the match to seal a comprehensive victory.
Ferrer later admitted he was not in the right frame of mind during the clash. “I don’t think I was focused in the match,” he said. “I tried my best but today I had a lot of problems, physically and mentally.”
Should Murray face Nadal on Saturday he will have to raise his game dramatically to have any chance against the world number one. He must land more first serves in than his poor rate of 43 per cent on Thursday and will need to cut down the unforced errors against the ultra-consistent Nadal after he handed Ferrer 19 points tonight.
Earlier in the day, Roger Federer was in supreme form against Robin Soderling. The world number two commanded the rallies with his versatility and ferocious ground strokes and sealed a 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 win that sees him through to the semi-finals.
The first set went to a tie-break after an exchange of breaks. The Swede was managing to match Federer until the business end of the set when the Swiss upped his game to drag Soderling across the baseline.
Federer clinched the set by guiding a backhand over the despairing Soderling who thought the ball was drifting well long. “It’s the worst feeling in the world when you leave a shot like that,” Federer reflected afterwards. “You have a split second to decide, and then see it go in.”
Soderling added: “I think he mishit it a little bit, so at first I was pretty sure it was going go out, and then as soon as I let it go I thought it was going a lot closer to the line than I expected.
“It was a little bit unlucky but it was my fault. Against Roger you need to have the luck to win. I’m not saying I would have won but I was a little bit unlucky today.”
The Swiss master maintained his 100 per cent record at this year’s tournament and is in scintillating form ahead of Saturday’s semi-final showdown. “That’s why I’m happy that all three matches were straight sets,” he said. “I didn’t waste any energy, I’m playing real well and I’m through to the semis so it’s all good right now.”
Friday’s line up sees Rafal Nadal take on Thomas Berdych before Novak Djokovic attempts to book his semi-final place against Andy Roddick.