Andy Murray finds form in the nick of time
Andy Murray joined Roger Federer in the semi-finals of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals with a 6-2 6-2 victory over David Ferrer at the O2 Arena in London.
After playing his part in the drama that saw Murray eliminated by one game last year, Federer did his bit to help the British number one this time with a 7-6 (7/5) 6-3 victory over Robin Soderling yesterday afternoon.
That meant Murray began last night's clash knowing he only needed to win a set to be sure of his place in the last four.
That looked anything but certain as he began the match nervously and allowed Ferrer to take a 2-0 lead. But, once the world number five had relaxed, he swiftly turned things around and raced to an ultimately comfortable victory.
Murray said: “I knew before I needed to win one set and David needed to win comfortably so it's quite a strange position to be in. David started well but I returned well to get myself back into it.”
For Ferrer it was a case of win or bust as he sought to keep his faint qualification hopes alive, and the Spaniard was faster out of the blocks, holding serve easily and then forcing two break points in Murray's first service game.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Scot looked a little tight and a shocking backhand into the bottom of the net handed Ferrer a 2-0 lead.
Murray was struggling to find a consistent length on his groundstrokes but, urged on by the home crowd, he promptly created three break points of his own.
Two disappeared with errant returns but on the third he traded backhands with Ferrer, a player known for his dogged determination, before firing a trademark winner down the line.
A lucky netcord helped him recover from 0-30 to hold for 2-2, and finally he seemed to loosen up, with a terrific backhand return giving him two more break points.
Ferrer threw in a second double-fault to hand Murray a third game in a row. That quickly became four and then five, with the British number one now full of confidence and toying with his opponent.
One more service game and it was job done after 31 minutes.
It had been a complete turnaround and there was no let-up from Murray at the start of the second set, the Scot clinching another break and a seventh successive game with a simple smash.
This was the Murray who demolished Soderling in the opening match, but those who have followed the British number one this year will know the only consistent thing has been his inconsistency.
His run of games was ended when he was broken to love, and three netted returns made it seven points in a row to Ferrer.
Murray's slump ended as suddenly as it had begun and soon he was back to terrorising Ferrer with his sheer variety of shots, and in the fifth game that brought three more break points.
An incorrect challenge to a serve he had got back was a strange way to squander the second but he took the third when a netcord gave Ferrer no chance with his volley.
The Spaniard's hopes were long dead but still he came at Murray and forced the Scot to save two more break points before he eventually held to lead 4-2.
An eighth break of the match was not long in coming, though, and Ferrer knew the game was up.
Murray duly made short work of holding his serve, sealing victory with a simple forehand winner.