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The Draw: 30 June

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Friday, 18 November 2016 20:01 PM GMT
ATP Finals Day 6: Wawrinka falls to Murray masterclass rounds up the action from Day 6 at the ATP World Tour Finals. READ MORE

Andy Murray d. Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 6-2

Outside of Grand Slam finals, Stan Wawrinka is now 0-20 against world No.1s, and few of his opponents during that barren run will have played as well as  Andy Murray did on Friday.

Virtually unplayable at his peak, Wawrinka began this match somewhere close to it, rattling off an absurd 13 winners within the first three games. The Swiss needed a straight sets win here to guarantee a semi-final berth, and his knowledge of that fact was only too evident in the opening proceedings. 

There aren’t many players who could have lived with Wawrinka in that mood, let alone stay level, but Murray, as he has done throughout his career, withstood the barrage before pouncing on an opportunity to turn the tide.

At 3-3, the Brit forced his way to deuce, and then drew an error from Wawrinka on his first break point opportunity. World No.1s have a knack for breaking their opponent’s resolve and Wawrinka, seemingly in disbelief that he wasn’t in the lead given the quality of his play, started to crack in the face of Murray’s resilience.

By now, Murray had lifted his game, with the weight of his double-handed backhand causing all sorts of problems for Wawrinka. The Swiss did save three break points at 5-3, but Murray served out the opener to seal his passage to the semi-finals, finishing up with a first serve percentage of 72%, and first serve points won percentage of 94%.

Murray opened the second set with a break of serve, and began playing some of the finest tennis of his entire 21-match win streak, which would swiftly become 22. Defence was regularly converted to attack in the blink of an eye, and an increasingly demoralised Wawrinka fell behind 5-1 before Murray served it out at the first time of asking.

I feel like my game's in a good place,” said Murray. “Played much better today than I did a couple days ago. Physically I feel good.”

Wawrinka concurred: “He didn't give me many chance, especially at the beginning.”

“Yeah, he make me hesitating a little bit with my game, when to go, when to stay back.

“That's why he's so good. That's why he's No.1. He's in full confidence. He's playing the right things.”

Verdict: Novak Djokovic laid down a challenge to Murray, and the world No.1 responded in kind.

Handed the hardest group imaginable, the Brit has advanced with a perfect record, and this last performance was as good as anything that has come before it.

Raonic will pose a stiff test in the semi-finals, but Murray has made a habit of beating him in London this year, and will feel confident of making it three victories in a row after defeating the Canadian at Queen’s and Wimbledon.

Marin Cilic d. Kei Nishikori 3-6, 6-2, 6-3

For someone who supposedly had nothing to play for, this was an admirable effort from Cilic, who rallied well after being outplayed in the first set.

In truth, Nishikori - who perhaps had one eye on his semi-final with Novak Djokovic - collapsed in the second and third sets, and began to look jaded as Cilic started finding his target with increasing regularity.

As a result, Cilic moves up to world No.6, and will be glad to finish on a high given the proximity of the Davis Cup Final, where he will lead his Croatia side against Argentina.

Verdict: This certainly wasn't the ideal preparation for Nishikori, who has lost his past nine encounters with Djokovic, and took just two games off the Serbian in their last meeting at the o2 Arena. The Japanese has beaten Djokovic on the big stage before, besting him at the US Open in 2014, but will need to be at his free-flowing best to record a positive result on Saturday.

Best point

How to save a doubles match point on your own, by Marc Lopez...

Best quote

"Neither of us ever would have expected this when we were growing up" - Andy Murray on him and brother Jamie battling for the No.1 ranking at the same time.

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