Andy Murray defeated Stan Wawrinka to surge through to the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour Finals, closer to a showdown with Novak Djokovic.
After winning his opening two matches against Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori at the O2 Arena in London, the Scot knew a set against Wawrinka would be enough.
He went one better, clinching a 6-4 6-2 victory to set up a re-match of the Wimbledon final against Milos Raonic today.
Should Murray come through that, and Djokovic defeat Nishikori in the other semi-final, then tomorrow’s final would also be a straight shoot-out for world number one.
It was also a 22nd consecutive victory for Murray, equalling his career-best streak from this summer, which included titles at Queen’s and Wimbledon and Olympic gold.
The Scot said: “The first set was tight, there weren’t many chances either way. I just managed to get the break.
“In the second set, I’d already qualified, Stan obviously needed to win so it was a bit easier for me to play more freely than him.”
Murray beat Raonic in the final of both Wimbledon and Queen’s, and said of another meeting: “I think he’s played very well so far in this event. It will be tough, he’s got a huge serve.”
Swiss fans, such a feature of Roger Federer’s success at the O2 Arena over the years, were out in force cheering Wawrinka. Murray had to hang on amid a barrage of winners and did it superbly.
The Scot broke serve for the first time at 4-3 and then forced three set points on the Wawrinka serve two games later.
But the 31-year-old held firm, forcing Murray to serve it out. In previous years, he might well have faltered but the confidence from winning so many matches has unquestionably helped him at such moments.
After claiming a tense point at 0-15, Murray was almost flawless and made sure the first box in the contest was ticked.
Wawrinka knew losing a set made it highly unlikely he would qualify for the semi-finals and his shoulders drooped a little further when he dropped serve again to start the second set.
At 3-0 and two breaks down, Wawrinka broke his racket clean in half in frustration, adding a fine to his troubles. But his main concerns were on court, and he could find no way to change the course of the match, shanking a final forehand into the crowd as Murray clinched victory.
Britain’s Jamie Murray and Brazil’s Bruno Soares will end the year as the top-ranked doubles duo after French pair Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert lost at the World Tour Finals yesterday.
Top seeds Herbert and Mahut suffered a third group defeat at the year-ender, meaning Murray and Soares, who reached the semi-finals by winning all three of theirs, remained 25 points ahead and cannot be overhauled.
With 200 points available for a group win, victory for Herbert and Mahut would have edged them back in front in the race but they went down 6-7 6-4 10-4 to Henri Kontinen and John Peers.
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