World number one Andy Murray secured beat his own record set earlier in the week with an epic 5-7, 7-6(5), 7-6(9) win over Milos Raonic in 3 hours 38 minutes, the longest match at the tournament since records began. Murray's win sees him into the final at the ATP World Tour Finals for the first time in his career, where will face Novak Djokovic in a battle for the year-end number one ranking.
Raonic came out firing, returning extremely well to earn opportunities for a break early in the set. Murray held on and stayed in touch until the Canadian finally managed to push through for the late break and a one set lead. In a similar style to the Queens Club final this year, Murray came back from a break down in the second to level the match, taking the second set in a tiebreak. The decider was extremely close, Murray had the chance to serve out the set but Raonic bounced back on both occasions with huge groundstrokes troubling the world number one. In the end, it was decided in another tight tiebreak, with Murray saving a Raonic match point and sealing his place in the final of the year-end championships for the first time.
Late break to take the lead
Murray sailed through a love hold to open the match. The Brit then made life difficult for Raonic on his serve as he pushed from 30-0 to 30-30, but the Canadian brought out his best serving to take the next two points and secure the hold. Another love hold followed for Murray as he put the pressure straight back on Raonic.
The Brit took the opening point on the return as a forehand from Raonic flew wide but the Canadian reeled off the next four to hold. Raonic then got his first points on the Murray serve, with huge forehands helping him to deuce. A return winner from the Canadian brought up a break point but a big second serve from the Brit got him out of danger and took him the crucial hold.
Only a minute was needed for Raonic to cruise through a love game as he put the pressure straight back on Murray, but the Brit responded with his third love hold to go ahead 4-3. Another easy hold came for Raonic with an impressive serving display leveling the pair as they headed into the latter stages of the opening set.
A double fault from Murray followed by a huge return from Raonic brought up another break point for the Canadian, but a nice volley from the Brit saved it and brought them to deuce. A game point came and went with an error from Murray as Raonic earned another break point. An inch perfect passing shot erased the danger momentarily as another error from the Brit brought up a third break point for Raonic. Murray kept battling and after twelve minutes, got the crucial hold to lead 5-4.
Raonic dealt with the pressure of serving to stay in the set, coming through another easy hold. More danger arrived soon after for Murray as Raonic was handed two break points with a couple of loose errors from the Brit, and a double fault handed the Canadian the late break that would allow him to serve for the set at 6-5.
The Canadian rushed to 40-0 but his first serve then abandoned him and Murray took advantage to fight back to 40-30. His first serve returned at the crucial moment and took the set on his third set point at 7-5.
Back from the brink
Murray survived a very important service game to open the second set as Raonic pushed him to deuce. Big first serves got him out of trouble as he got back on track with a hold. The Canadian battled through a nine-minute hold, saving two break points in a tense mini-battle to tie the pair up early. The pressure was on Murray as Raonic went on the offensive again on the return, hammering a forehand down the line to bring up break point. A shocking error from the Brit sealed an early break and a 2-1 lead for the Canadian.
A nightmare game followed for Raonic as a string of errors left Murray with three break back points. He only needed one as excellent defense followed by a forced error left them tied at 2-2. Murray then sailed through a love hold as he switched the momentum in his favor, winning eight straight points to go ahead at 3-2.
Raonic ended Murray's point streak as he hit through the Brit's defense to take a lead on serve. A great return forced the error from Raonic and an outstanding passing shot from Murray took him into the lead on the return at 15-30. Raonic recovered the next point but Murray followed by closing down the net. An outstanding pickup from Raonic saved a break point and an error from the Brit brought up a game point but Murray impressed at the net again to take them back to deuce. The Canadian kept battling and came away with the critical hold to stay in touch at 3-3.
Murray began his next service game with a double-fault but came through another intense game, looking far more positive and playing way better than the first set to take the lead at 4-3. Raonic followed with a love hold to quickly put the pressure back on Murray. The Brit got underway with an excellent drop volley as he came through another gutsy hold of serve.
Deep hitting from Murray on the return got him off to a lead as Raonic was serving to stay in the set. A double fault from the Canadian left him 0-30 down but a missed return from the Brit and an error at the end of a long rally left them tied up. An ace from Raonic gave him game point and another error from the Brit gave Raonic the impressive hold of serve. A brave forehand winner from Murray at 30-30 gave him game point but a horrible shank tied them at deuce. A great unreturned serve brought up another game point but Raonic's huge forehands helped him back to deuce. Murray continued to bring up his best serves at the crucial point at deuce and eventually came through the tight hold to guarantee himself at least a tiebreak. Raonic fired an ace to begin serving to stay in the set for a second time, cruising through a hold to send the pair into a tiebreak.
Murray held on to the first point of the tiebreak to take the lead and immediately stole a mini-break as Raonic hit a backhand into the net. An ace gave Raonic his first point of the breaker. An unreturned serve followed by an outstanding pickup at the net left Murray in the lead at 4-1. Raonic stayed in touch with massive serving bringing him to 4-3. A forehand into the net from Raonic gave Murray a 5-3 lead but a clean forehand winner from the Canadian gave him the mini-break back. Murray reclaimed his lead with a volley winner and sealed the set 7-6(5) to level the match.
A grueling victory
Raonic got off to a perfect start in the decider with a quick hold to love and followed on the return by earning himself a break point. Murray erased the first but an error brought up another. The Canadian wasn't able to capitalize and Murray fired himself up to come through the tough hold. Murray's deep returning got him off to a lead on the return again but Raonic came through another tight service game to lead 2-1.
The world number one came through a much-needed love hold to quickly level the pair back up. Raonic slipped slightly on serve as he went from 40-0 to 40-30 but he quickly refocused to hold and stay in front. Murray rushed to 30-0 on serve but a loose error followed by a double fault left Raonic with opportunities at 30-30. A big serve out wide followed by an inside-out forehand brought up a game point and the Brit held on to level at 3-3.
Outstanding defense from Murray on the return followed by a backhand passing shot down the line gave him a look in at 30-30 but Raonic's impenetrable serving took him through another battling hold. Excellent returning from the Canadian in the next game seen him take a 0-30 lead. A huge serve from the Brit followed by a couple of loose points from Raonic got Murray out of danger and another crucial hold for 4-4.
A terrible service game from Raonic gave Murray the gift of a break to love that would allow him to serve for the match. Raonic hit a stunning return winner as he attempted to make his way back into the set and an overhead winner left him with chances at 15-30. A return that Murray thought was drifting long dropped in to leave Raonic with two break back points. A forehand winner back behind Raonic erased the first but the Canadian chased down a drop shot from Murray to seal the break back at 5-5.
Murray was looking to break again as he took a 0-30 lead on return but Raonic fought his way back to 30-30 and a return into the net left the Canadian with a game point. A good change of direction from Murray caused an error from Raonic to bring them to deuce. A costly double fault from Raonic left Murray with another break point, and he again took the break that would allow him another chance to serve out the match.
Raonic's punishing groundstrokes took him to 0-30 on return again but Murray recovered one point with a forehand down the line winner. An error from Murray again gave Raonic two break back points and he took the first of the two to send them into a tiebreak.
The pair exchanged mini-breaks, with a forehand wide from Raonic and a double fault from Murray. A drop shot from Murray took him into the lead at 2-1 and two unreturned serves from Raonic quickly switched the tiebreak in his favor. An ace from Murray and a forehand into the net from his opponent took the Brit back ahead at 4-3. A forehand into the corner from the world number one gave him a mini-break lead once again and just like the first, quickly disappeared as Raonic fought back, saving a match point to level them at 6-6. An amazing return from Murray forced the volley from Raonic to drift long, bringing up a second match point for the world number one. A backhand slice flew long to level the pair at 7-7, but an impressive serve under pressure saw a third match point appear. Raonic stayed in control of both points on serve to earn a match point of his own on the Murray serve. A confident volley away seen the match point erased and a big serve out wide gave the Brit a fourth opportunity to close out the match. Raonic blinked first and a forehand into the net seen Murray take the tense tiebreak 7-6(9) to reach the final for the first time.