(November 14, 2016) Andy Murray began the ATP World Tour Finals with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Marin Cilic to mark his first match win as world No. 1.
Murray who moved into the top spot last week, was warmly welcomed by the British crowd at the O2 Arena in London in his first round robin match during the evening session. Murray and second seed Novak Djokovic will be battling it out for year-end No. 1 this week.
“It was a great reception obviously,” Murray said. “A really, really good atmosphere tonight. Yeah, it was obviously nice to play in that stadium with the crowd like that. It obviously helps.
“After a long kind of few months, it’s nice to know that I’m going to be finishing the year, you know, playing in that sort of atmosphere. It helps you get up for the matches a bit more, as well.”
Murray was asked about if he’s thinking about the No. 1 ranking: “I’ve not been thinking about that really. Sort of the day it happened and also the day of the final in Paris, it was definitely on my mind, you know, quite a lot. Then I had a lot of message on the Monday.
“The last few days, I haven’t thought about it too much. It didn’t change much for me.”
Questioned in regard to seeing Novak Djokovic after he reached No. 1, the Scotsman said: “No, it wasn’t strange. I mean, we’ve known each other for such a long time. I think both of us have been kind of used to congratulating each other over the years. I mean, we bump into each other every week after he’s won an event the last few years, and it’s become quite a normal thing to congratulate him on winning tournaments and everything he’s achieved. It’s quite normal.
“We don’t go, Congratulations, and talk about it for 10 minutes. We talk about our families and other stuff. We don’t discuss it much.”
Despite giving up a mere five games, the match was closer than the score indicated. Murray had to fight to hold his serve early in the match.
Despite the loss, No. 7 seed Cilic still felt upbeat about the match:
“I think I felt I started quite well. I had first game two breakpoints, then lost my serve, came back and was a little bit at the beginning not serving that well. That I think was one thing that helped Andy to be in the rallies.
“Obviously we played quite a lot in the rallies in the first five, six games. They were quite long games, quite long rallies.
“I had also on his third service game a few chances, 15-40 I think again. Just felt that maybe in a few I made just wrong decisions. When I need to step in, I didn’t. When I need to wait a little bit longer, I wasn’t waiting.
“Overall I felt I was not playing too bad, just obviously maybe a different pattern of the balls. The hitting could have been better. Yeah, a little bit unfortunate to go 6-3, 6-2 down, where it felt it was much, much closer in the first set. Beginning of the second, I had couple chances as well.
“Unfortunately, that’s the way it is. Obviously tougher to start straightaway with matches like these against the best guys. I’m not so used to it. That’s something I guess quite new for me. Most of the tournaments I’m playing them third, fourth round at least. It’s a little bit different to start straightaway in the match.
“But I’m quite positive with the way I was playing. Just saying it could have been some better decisions.”
Murray is now 1-0 in his group.
No. 5 seed Nishikori stopped third seed Stan Wawrinka 6-2, 6-3 during the day session.
Nishikori has a chance to end the year at No. 3 with a good tournament this week.
“I’m not thinking too much about rankings, but would be nice if I could finish 4 or 3,” said the top Japanese player. “I see good chance to be there if I can play good this week. That’s one of my goal this week. Also next year I hope I can stay No. 4 or No. 3, try to catch up Andy and Djoko.”
Asked about playing the top seeded Murray later this week, Nishikori said: “This year we played three, four times. I had a tough loss in Rio. But US Open and Davis Cup, we played, you know, some good match. I feel more chance, you know, to win the match against Andy.
“Obviously it’s the toughest match maybe in this group. Yeah, for sure I have to play well and play hundred percent to beat Andy. This match will help, for sure, for next match.”
Wawrinka was not happy with his performance on Monday. “It was not a great match compared to what I can do, that’s for sure,” said the Swiss. “I don’t think I find anything on the court today. I was a little bit slow on everything. I was hesitating a lot with my game, my movement.”
“I’m sure I still have something inside me to play some great tennis before the end of the year, so I’m going to try everything for that in the next match,” noted the three-time major champion. “I’m going to do what I need to do tomorrow to get ready for trying to play better in two days.”