World number one Andy Murray notched his twenty-second straight win and sealed his place undefeated at the top of the John McEnroe group in the ATP World Tour Finals with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Stan Wawrinka. This result decides Murray's place in the semifinals and Kei Nishikori as the second qualifier. Murray will face off against Milos Raonic in London for the third time this year for a place in the final.
Wawrinka came out extremely strong, punishing groundstrokes taking him through a dominant opening hold of serve. Murray absorbed the early pressure and one late break was enough to secure the first set and his place in the semifinals. Murray brought out his best tactical play in the second set, with a mixture of different pace, height on the ball combined with some devastating backhands taking him through the first four straight games easily as Wawrinka faltered. Wawrinka managed to hold on to his serve late in the second but Murray raced through his service games, not allowing his opponent a way back into the match, to seal the win.
Soaking up the pressure
Wawrinka dictated the early points and opened the match with a perfect hold to love. Murray was made to work in his first service game as Wawrinka found himself with opportunities at 15-30 but the Brit came through with the help of some good serving. The US Open champion looked to be cruising through on serve again as he raced to 40-0 but good returning from Murray and a string of loose shots from Wawrinka found them locked at deuce. Back to back aces got Wawrinka out of the game with a well-fought hold.
Another love hold, this time for Murray, tied the pair up at 2-2.A repeat of Wawrinka's earlier struggles on serve looked to be repeating as Murray pushed the world number three from 40-0 to 40-30 but another perfectly placed ace brought Wawrinka back into the lead. Murray came out on top of a battle of two of the best backhands in the world as he came through another tough hold, surviving an onslaught of massive hitting from Wawrinka as he tried to dictate play.
There were opportunities for Murray on return in the next game as a great return off of an equally impressive second serve from Wawrinka took them to deuce. A big forehand winner from the Swiss brought up a game point but a forehand flew long on the next point to return to deuce. Another huge backhand crosscourt from Murray found the line to cause an error from Wawrinka and bring up the first break point of the match. An error from Wawrinka secured the first break and a 4-3 lead for the world number one.
Murray sailed through another love hold to go a game away from taking the first set. Wawrinka's woes continued on serve as a couple of punishing backhands from Murray left the Brit with a set point. A forehand error from the world number one took them back to deuce but a winner from the forehand quickly brought up another. A perfectly executed serve-volley from Wawrinka saved another and the world number three fought his way to game point as he fired his signature one-handed backhand down the line to come away with the battling hold of serve and force Murray to serve for the set.
Wawrinka took a lead on the return as he looked to steal back the break in the final moments of the set but the Swiss then let out his frustrations as he ended a 21 stroke rally with an error to level them at 15-15. A first ace from Murray brought up two set points and another big serve secured the set 6-4 and Murray's place in the semifinals.
Dominant final set
A terrible opening game from Wawrinka continued Murray's momentum into the second set as a backhand shank handed the Brit an easy break. A shaky opening to Murray's service game saw Wawrinka earn his first break point of the match but a big serve from the Brit quickly erased it as he fought through the hold for a 2-0 lead. The world number one mixed up the pace and height of the ball to frustrate Wawrinka and draw errors on his way to a double break lead.
There were not only two breaks of serve but also two racket breaks as Wawrinka let out his frustrations at the change of ends. Murray's lead looked to be in danger as Wawrinka refocused and started to play a lot better to earn a break point. The Brit saved it and held on to his lead, in complete control at 4-0. The Swiss stopped Murray's run at five straight games as he got his first game on the board late in the second set.
Murray's lead wasn't going anywhere as he cruised through another hold to go a game away from the win, erratic shots from a dejected looking Wawrinka making life easy for the Brit. Another hold from the world number three gave Murray the chance to serve for the set at 5-2. The world number one broke a string in the first point on serve and although eventually losing the point, still managed to hang in the rally and even pull off a lob. A huge serve quickly recovered the deficit and another unforced error took Murray to 30-15. An ace brought up two match points and Murray sealed the win and his place at the top of the John McEnroe group.