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Murray boys are on top of the world

By Eleanor Crooks

The perfect finish to the Murray family's remarkable year is tantalisingly close.

Both Andy and Jamie are through to the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour Finals, with Andy producing his best performance of the week to beat Stan Wawrinka 6-4 6-2 yesterday.

Having won their third match a day earlier, Jamie and Brazilian partner Bruno Soares also had plenty to celebrate yesterday when defeat for Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert confirmed they will finish the year as the world's number one doubles team.

Andy still has work to do to secure the number one singles ranking, and a final showdown with Novak Djokovic tomorrow is very much on the cards.

Murray will face Milos Raonic in the last four today in a rematch of the Wimbledon final, which he won, while Djokovic takes on fifth seed Kei Nishikori.

It is far from inconceivable that both Murray brothers could be lifting trophies tomorrow to add to their 2016 tally of three grand slam titles and one Olympic gold.

Andy explained: "The whole year has been fantastic for both of us. Obviously we would like to finish it perfectly if we can.

"Still there's a good chance that doesn't happen. But, regardless of what happens over the weekend, we can look back on this year and be very proud of what we've done as a family.

"We were always competing against each other from a young age. Now we don't, I think we're probably each other's biggest fans.

"It's really special to get to watch what he's achieved in the biggest competitions in the sport. Neither of us ever would have expected this when we were growing up. We need to try and enjoy it."

Murray only needed a set against Wawrinka to make the last four but that was no mean feat in itself against the US Open champion, who on his day can blow anyone off the court.

Wawrinka needed a straight-sets win and came out blasting winners but Murray hung in there and was always in control once he broke for 4-3 in the opening set.

Wawrinka expressed his frustration by snapping his racket in half when he went a double break down in the second set and there was no coming back.

Murray said: "I weathered the early storm a little bit. Stan came out hitting the ball huge. He was hitting a lot of winners, a lot of aces.

"But, once I got through the early part of the match, I started to create chances in most of his service games. I served very well myself. I got a lot of free points with my serve.

"That allowed me to also dictate a lot of the points, whereas at the beginning of the match I wasn't able to do that."

It was a relief for Murray that this match was relatively quick after his three-hour marathon against Nishikori on Wednesday, meaning Raonic's extra day of rest should not give the Canadian too much of an advantage.

While the tennis world will see Raonic as a stepping stone to Djokovic, Murray is all too aware of the dangers, even if he has won their five meetings this year, including a straight-sets victory in the Wimbledon final.

The Scot said of avoiding Djokovic in the semis: "There's a good chance that, if I want to win the tournament, I would have to win against him. That would either be in the semis or the final. I don't think that makes a whole lot of difference.

"I've got a big match obviously against Milos now, a tough one. I'm certainly not taking anything for granted. I know it will be hard. I know I'll need to play well to win.

"But I feel like my game's in a good place. I played much better today than I did a couple of days ago. Physically I feel good. So I'm looking forward to the weekend."

In last night's match........ Nishikori v Marin Cilic

Murray, meanwhile, feels the ATP would need to find an "upgrade" from the O2 Arena if the tournament is to move.

The current contract runs out in 2018 but a newspaper report suggested London could be made its permanent home.

Murray said: "They do get great crowds here. I haven't really spoken to anyone about that. If we changed and went somewhere else, where would that be? It would obviously have to be an upgrade from here."

Despite reduced crowds this year in the absence of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, attendance is again set to top 250,000, and the tournament is the ATP's biggest money-spinner.

An ATP spokesman said: "The tournament's location beyond 2018 is yet to be determined."

In the final group game, Croatian Marin Cilic defeated Japan's Kei Nishikori 3-6 6-2 6-3.

Belfast Telegraph


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