Chalkdust Chronicles: Murray on the board as errors do in Raonic
(November 11, 2014) LONDON – Andy Murray thrived with a raucous evening crowd to get his first win on the board at the Barclays ATP world Tour Finals, with a straight sets win over Milos Raonic 6-3, 7-5.
After a day of one-sided matches, and even the match-up between Roger Federer and Kei Nishikori earlier in the day not living up to its potential, it was down to Murray to address his head to head deficit over Raonic, who played pretty solidly in Paris before heading here.
Murray started with some very solid returning and was hitting with much more purpose than we saw in his first match against Nishikori, and was perhaps pressuring Raonic into rushing his shots. Certainly the Canadian was having a tougher time reigning in his first serve, and the flood of errors, especially on the forehand side over the match by far outweighed some sharp winners.
Raonic had little choice but to offer a frank assessment on his form, acknowledging that his first serve, a key foundation to his game, was not up to scratch.
“Whatever the reason is, I have 24 hours to solve it if I want to have any hope. There’s no way around that.”
He continued: “I’ve been too passive on the court. I’ve been trying to beat the two guys playing their tennis, and that’s going to work for me.”
Murray broke in the first set and kept his nose in front, but just when it seemed that the momentum was firmly with him with an early break at the start of the second, a lazy choice of drop-shot played onto Raonic’s hands to give him enough of an advantage to break straight back.
Murray was starting to rush a little and if anything Raonic was beginning to find that serve of his, banging down a couple of aces to threaten taking it to a tie-break or even a third set.
Twice Murray had to dig himself out of a 0-30 but again the Canadian was beginning to get carried away, going for too much, with Murray rewarded with another break.
Not that it was plain sailing at 6-5 for the Brit, with Raonic saving a match-point but Murray made no mistake at the second as yet another Raonic error gave Murray the match, but not before a cheeky little challenge by the Canadian before the inevitable.
After the match Murray said: “I obviously played better tonight. I hit the ball a lot cleaner than I did on Sunday from the beginning of the match. So that was pleasing. [I] started to try and use as much variation as possible on my second serve. So served more serves into his forehand. I wouldn’t serve like two or three serves to the same spot in a row. I would just try and use as much variation as I could so that he couldn’t be in as much of a rhythm.”
In a little bit of spice, Federer will have to qualify out of his third and final round robin match. He needed Murray to grind out a win in three sets to have guaranteed his place in the last four.
“For me it depends on the winner of the Nishikori/Raonic match. If Kei wins, then I need to beat Roger, it depends on the scoreline of that match with Kei and Raonic. If Raonic wins, then I know that all I need to do is win the match against Roger and I’ll be through.’
He concluded: ‘Hopefully I can get through the group and keep going. If not, playing against Roger is a good way for me to finish the year, as well.”
The final round-robin matches for Group B will be played on Thursday.