Andy Murray and David Ferrer lock horns in pursuit of Vienna and London

Andy Murray and David Ferrer set to meet in Vienna Open final at the Race to London hots up

The Race to seal a place among the elite eight men in the world at the O2 in London in November is set to take on a gladiatorial edge when Andy Murray and David Ferrer meet in the final of the ATP 250 in Vienna, before they both head off to compete for the Valencia 500 title next week.

There, things will become even more up-close-and-personal because the man who stands just above them in the contest for the three remaining places, Tomas Berdych, will also play at the Valencia Open.

What’s more, the big Czech, who faces Grigor Dimitrov in the final of the Stockholm Open this weekend, will be in the enviable position of watching his two rivals fight for points in the top half of the draw while he attempts to work his way through the bottom half.

The Race is, without question, getting tighter by the day. Four of the six finalists and rivals for London who play this weekend face off against each other: Berdych at No7 versus Dimitrov at No11, Murray at No8 versus Ferrer at No9. They are currently separated by just 450 points for the ever-diminishing number of places, tournaments and weeks.

Only today, Marin Cilic became the fifth man to confirm his berth at the O2, joining Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka, and that was before he had even reached the final of the third final this weekend in Moscow. There, the Croat will take No15 in the Race, Roberto Bautista Agut.

Half of the six finalists will add a further 100 points to their tally with victory, so both Berdych and Ferrer could move up a place. Most significantly for Murray, Ferrer could not just win the title but overtake the Briton into the key eighth place.

Murray leads Ferrer 7-6 in their head-to-head, but Ferrer won their most recent meeting, 2-6, 6-1, 6-2, at last week’s Shanghai Rolex Masters. Their third meeting in as many weeks could come in the semis of Valencia—making this particular rivalry perhaps the most crucial of them all. They have already exchanged positions three times in little more than a week.

Dimitrov has his own incentive in Stockholm, aside from points. It was there last year that he won his maiden ATP title. He also happens to lead the big-hitting Berdych, who won his 50th match of the year to reach the final, 3-1 in their head-to-head.

There are still bigger points up for grabs next week, and while Murray, Ferrer and Berdych fight it out in Valencia, Dimitrov and No10 Milos Raonic—both of whom are looking to qualify for London for the first time—will be trying their chances in Basel. In their way in the draw, though, could be Federer and Nadal respectively.

As if that did not create enough uncertainty, the highest ranked man yet to qualify, Kei Nishikori at No5, has just pulled out of Valencia for personal reasons.

Expect this Race to run to the very close of the last tournament, the Paris Masters.

The standings

Q 1 Novak Djokovic 8,650
Q 2 Roger Federer 7,020
Q 3 Rafael Nadal 6,735
Q 4 Stan Wawrinka 4,795
Q 6 Marin Cilic 4,050

5 Kei Nishikori 4,265
7 Tomas Berdych 4,005
8 Andy Murray 3,785
9 David Ferrer 3,775
10 Milos Raonic 3,740
11 Grigor Dimitrov 3,555
12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 2,650
13 Ernests Gulbis 2,455
14 Roberto Bautista Agut 2,020
15 Feliciano Lopez 2,015

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