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Murray Battles To Verdasco Win

Posted by on Nov 26th, 2009 and filed under  Top Stories, Latest News, Tennis. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

British favourite Andy Murray rocked The O2 arena Thursday afternoon with a pulsating, three-hour-long 6-4, 6-7(4), 7-6(3) victory over Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in Group A at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

Murray’s victory ends Verdasco’s chances of qualifying for the semi-finals, and leaves the Scot awaiting the result of the final Group A round-robin match between Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro this evening to learn his fate.

Should Federer avenge his US Open final loss to del Potro, both Federer and Murray would qualify for the semi-finals. If del Potro were to win in straight sets against the Swiss, Murray and del Potro would both go through. However, if the Argentine were to prevail in three sets, the tie between Federer, Murray and del Potro, who would all be on a 5-4 sets score, would be broken by the games win-loss percentage.

Murray is hoping to reach the semi-finals at the season finale for the second year in a row, after going 3-0 in round-robin play on an impressive debut in Shanghai last year, before losing to Nikolay Davydenko.

With a lot on the line in the pair’s ninth meeting, nerves dominated the opening stages of the encounter. As he had in his loss to Federer on Tuesday evening, Murray struggled with his first-serve percentage in the opening set (47 per cent) but Verdasco was unable to take advantage. In fact, it was the Spaniard who endured more difficulties on serve, saving break points in the first and seventh games.

The 22-year-old Murray finally got his breakthrough at the fifth opportunity, soaking up a barrage of attack from Verdasco by retrieving smashes and blistering ground strokes before being rewarded for his resilience as the Madrileno grew frustrated and netted a backhand volley. The Scot was not entirely comfortable serving out the set, going down 0/30 with two double faults, but was able to recover himself and clinched the one-set lead as a Verdasco forehand found the net.

In similar fashion to the first set, Murray once again had many chances to break serve in the second set, creating seven opportunities in total, but in contrast to the opener was not able to find a way through Verdasco’s defences. In the knowledge that a straight-sets win would guarantee him a semi-final spot, Murray tightened up in the latter stages of the set and Verdasco responded by raising his level and in the ensuing tie-break stepped forward to rip a forehand winner and lead 5-4. The left-hander then levelled the match as Murray double faulted – one of nine he committed in the match.

Both players continued to struggle to find their best level in the decider, but were less exposed on serve with Murray creating the only break point of the set in the first game. He was promptly denied as Verdasco fired down a powerful serve that the Dunblane native could not return.

With the crowd urging Murray on, the Scot was able to produce some of his better tennis in the tie-break, taking advantage of a hobbled Verdasco who appeared to injure himself as he overstretched for a low backhand volley during the third point. Strong serving from Murray saw him earn three match points at 6-3 and he converted his first as Verdasco drilled a forehand drive volley wide – one of 64 unforced errors he committed in the match.

The No. 4-ranked Murray won his 66th tour-level match of the season – the second-best record on the ATP World Tour this season behind Novak Djokovic (77 match wins). The right-hander has captured an ATP World Tour-best six titles this season, including two ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophies at the Sony Ericsson Open (d. Djokovic) in Miami and the Rogers Cup (d. del Potro) in Montreal.

Murray has won all but one of his nine clashes with Verdasco, only losing to the Spaniard in the fourth round of the Australian Open at the start of the season. That victory sparked a stellar season for the left-hander, who went on to reach his first Grand Slam semi-final (l. to Nadal) and advance to the quarter-finals or better in a further 13 tournaments, including winning his third ATP World Tour title at Pilot Pen Tennis (d. Querrey) in New Haven.

The 26-year-old Verdasco was making his debut at the elite eight-man season finale and will leave with his head held high after three close losses – all in three sets – to World No. 1 Federer, US Open champion del Potro and Murray. He will now turn his attention to Spain’s Davis Cup final against the Czech Republic in Barcelona next weekend.

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