LONDON: Andy Murray has already scaled the tennis summit but Japan’s Kei Nishikori did his best to loosen his footing before falling in a three-hour thriller at the ATP World Tour Finals on Wednesday. Home favorite Murray’s insatiable will power allowed him to prevail in a brutal encounter 6-7(9) 6-4 6-4, keeping him on course for his first title at the year-ender. Should he achieve that in his eighth attempt it would guarantee the 29-year-old end the year as world number one ahead of Novak Djokovic who would steal back the crown if he manages a fifth straight title at the O2 Arena.
The path will be a rocky one though if Wednesday’s cliffhanger-the longest match in the event’s seven-year residence in London-is anything to go by. Misfiring Murray looked in trouble when Nishikori edged a 20-point tiebreak to win an 85-minute opening set. But he clawed his way back to claim a 21st consecutive victory in three hours and 20 minutes. It avenged his five-set defeat at the hands of Nishikori in the US Open quarter-finals-from which he has since embarked on the run that snapped Djokovic’s 122-week hold on power. “I wasn’t able to dictate many of the points,” Murray said. “More so in the third set. But not in the first couple. I was having to run, fight, get as many balls back as I could. — Reuters