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Updated: 7 min 7 sec ago

Murray Beats Wawrinka, To Meet Raonic In SFs

Fri, 11/18/2016 - 5:52pm

The battle for year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings will come down to the final weekend of the season. World No. 1 Andy Murray made sure of that on Friday by dismissing third seed Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 6-2 in his final Group John McEnroe match.

“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,” said Murray. “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, 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.”

Murray's win also set Saturday's semi-final lineup. The Scot will face Milos Raonic, who finished second in Group Ivan Lendl, at 2 pm GMT. Novak Djokovic, who won Group Ivan Lendl, will face Kei Nishikori, the second-place finisher in Group John McEnroe, at 8 pm GMT.

Murray will try to reach the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals title match for the first time when he faces Raonic, who concluded round-robin play with a 2-1 record. The Scot leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Raonic 8-3 and has won their past seven match-ups. Their semi-final contest at The O2 will be their sixth meeting of 2016, with their closest three-set contest of the season coming at The Queen's Club in June. Raonic led by a set and a break but Murray came back to win in the final 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3.

“Milos obviously serves big, goes for his shots. He moves forward when he has the chance. I think he probably likes the conditions here since it’s a little bit quicker,” said Murray. “You don't normally get loads of opportunities against the big servers. It comes down to whether or you take them when you do get those chances. When I've played him this year, I've created a few opportunities. I'll need to do the same tomorrow if I want to win.”

By improving to 3-0 in London, Murray also kept pace with World No. 2 Djokovic, who finished his group stage play a perfect 3-0 as well. On paper Murray is 205 points ahead of Djokovic, but the Scot will see the 275 points he earned in the 2015 Davis Cup final fall from his points total on 28 November, the day the year-end rankings are calculated. So, that effectively leaves Murray 130 points ahead of Djokovic at the conclusion of Friday's day session.

The Brit is trying to finish year-end No. 1 for the first time in his career. Djokovic is looking to finish No. 1 for the third consecutive year and for the fifth time overall. If Djokovic loses to Nishikori, and Murray wins, the Scot will finish as No. 1. But if Murray loses in the semi-finals and Djokovic wins, the Serbian will finish as year-end No. 1.

If both players win their semi-final contests, however, the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals title match would determine year-end No. 1, which has never happened in the history of the season finale (since 1970).

The pressure was on Murray to match Djokovic on Friday, and he handled it well, as he has the past six months. The 29 year old turned in perhaps his cleanest match of the tournament, dropping only four of his first-serve points (26/30) and erasing both break points in the 87-minute contest.

“I think he did many things good. I think he was serving really well, especially playing good after the serve. He didn't give me many chances,” Wawrinka said. “He made me hesitate 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.”

Wawrinka looked locked in during the early exchanges. The Swiss was blasting winners from both sides. He'd finish the first set with 22 winners. But Murray withstood the barrage and earned the first break of the match at 3-all. The Scot was pushed out wide on a Wawrinka kick serve but stayed in the point and cut a backhand volley that Wawrinka sliced into the net.

Murray held on to the momentum, too, breaking Wawrinka twice to lead 3-0 in the second set. The Scot now has won 22 consecutive matches and just needs two more wins to finish the best season of his career as World No. 1.

Barclays ATP World Tour Finals 2016 Doubles Show Opener

Fri, 11/18/2016 - 4:38pm
Watch our 2016 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals doubles show opener, shown on Centre Court at The O2 ahead of each clash. Photo: Getty Images

Murray/Soares Clinch Year End No 1

Fri, 11/18/2016 - 4:32pm
Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares have clinched the year-end No. 1 spot in the Emirates ATP Doubles Team Rankings.

Lopez/Lopez Vs Klaasen/Ram Preview

Fri, 11/18/2016 - 4:30pm
Watch a preview of the straight shoot out between Lopez / Lopez and Klaasen / Ram for a place in the semi-finals of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

Kontinen Peers Remain Perfect Highlights

Fri, 11/18/2016 - 3:06pm
Watch highlights as Henri Kontinen and John Peers complete their round-robin action in Group Fleming/McEnroe with a third victory against Frenchmen Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com. Photo: Peter Staples / ATP World Tour

Kontinen & Peers Remain Perfect In London

Fri, 11/18/2016 - 3:04pm

Henri Kontinen and John Peers have marked their team debut at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals by finishing Group Fleming/McEnroe undefeated, following a 6-7(5), 6-4, 10-4 victory over Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut on Friday.

The win for semi-finalists Kontinen/Peers also guaranteed the season-ending No. 1 Emirates ATP Doubles Team Ranking for Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares.

Mahut, looking to become the first Frenchman to finish the campaign No. 1 in singles or doubles, required one victory in London to be crowned the individual No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings, but the top seeds exit at the round-robin stage following three defeats.

Therefore, Soares can become No. 1 should the Brazilian and Murray lift the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals trophy on Sunday.

The comeback at The O2 arena means that Kontinen/Peers head into the semi-finals on an eight-match winning streak.

However, Kontinen/Peers were broken for the first time this week as the Frenchmen took the initiative to rapidly lead 3-0. Herbert had the chance to serve for the opening set but the fifth seeds found their range on return to force a tie-break. The Finnish/Australian duo hauled themselves back from 6-2 to 6-5 before a fine reaction volley from Herbert sealed the set.

Watch Kontinen/Peers Interview

Locked at 5-4, in the second set, serve was dominating proceedings until Peers struck a forehand return winner to increase the pressure. A Herbert double fault and errant Mahut volley sent the contest into a match tie-break. Kontinen/Peers were ruthless and combined heavy serving with solid net play to complete the fightback.

The team debutants at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals have now compiled a 41-19 season record, capturing four titles in five finals.

View practice schedule & watch live stream from practice courts

Murray & Soares Clinch Year-End No. 1 Emirates ATP Doubles Team Ranking

Fri, 11/18/2016 - 3:03pm
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The first-year pairing of Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares has clinched the year-end No. 1 Emirates ATP Doubles Team Ranking. Murray and Soares join Grant Connell and Patrick Galbraith (1993), and Jonas Bjorkman and Todd Woodbridge (2001) to claim the honour in their first season together.

Great Britain’s Murray and Brazil’s Soares, who completed Group Edberg/Jarryd play this week with a 3-0 record to advance to the semi-finals at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, are guaranteed the year-end No. 1 honour after French pair Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut lost their final round-robin match at The O2 in London, venue of the season finale.

Additionally, as a result of Mahut’s loss, if Soares goes on to win the season finale crown with Murray on Sunday, the 34 year old will become the 50th player (since 1976) to rise to the individual No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings, when the new standings are published on 21 November.

"It takes time to develop a partnership,” said Murray. “We were fortunate to hit it off on the right note at the beginning of the year and it gave us a lot of confidence. We knew we could do good things on the court together and the No. 1 ranking shows that. We'll try and compete this weekend to win the [Barclays] ATP World Tour Finals. It's pretty exciting to be the No. 1 team.”

Soares said, "My phone is shaking quite a lot now. It’s a great achievement and now I have to win the title to become the individual No. 1 [in the Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings]. So I have a chance."

Murray and Soares captured three titles in 2016 at the Australian Open (d. Nestor/Stepanek), the US Open (d. Carreño Busta/Garcia-Lopez) and the Apia Sydney International (d. Bopanna/Mergea). The pair was also runners up at two ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments, the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters (l. to Herbert/Mahut) and the Rogers Cup in Toronto (l. to Dodig/Melo).

Jamie Murray’s brother, Andy, is also battling Novak Djokovic for the coveted year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, which will be decided in the final days of the 2016 season at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

Previewing Nishikori Vs Cilic In London

Fri, 11/18/2016 - 3:03pm
Former British No. 1 Tim Henman previews the Kei Nishikori vs. Marin Cilic match-up at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London.

Previewing Murray Wawrinka London Clash

Fri, 11/18/2016 - 3:02pm
Former British No. 1 Tim Henman previews the Andy Murray vs. Stan Wawrinka group stage match at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

Herbert Mahut Vs Kontinen Peers London 2016 Preview

Fri, 11/18/2016 - 1:46pm
Watch a preview for the doubles clash between Pierre-Hugues Herbert / Nicolas Mahut and Henri Kontinen / John Peers at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

Player Blog: Murray/Soares Cruise To The O2

Fri, 11/18/2016 - 1:20pm

Our typical ride to the courts of an ATP World Tour tournament looks like this: I sit in one row of the tournament transportation van, and my doubles partner, Jamie Murray, sits in another, and we enjoy some down time. During our rides to tournament sites, either before or after matches, we're usually not itching to catch up or talk about current events; I spend more time with Jamie than I do my wife, so we have plenty of time for small talk during every other part of the day.

But pre- and post-match transportation looks a lot different at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London. Namely, we travel by boat instead of by car. The boats come and go throughout the day from the London Eye pier to The O2, which sits on the edge of the Greenwich Peninsula and is half surrounded by the River Thames.

With coffee on board and plenty of space to relax, it's just about the ideal spot to get done whatever you want to get done. The first day, though, we all spend much of our time in awe, snapping photos and posting to Instagram, because, from the boat, you can spot all the London landmarks. The London Eye. Big Ben. The London Bridge. The Tower Bridge. The Shard. St. Paul's Cathedral. Everything.

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Once you've stared sufficiently and filled your iPhone with selfies, you find other ways to occupy your time on the boat. I'm privileged enough to serve on the ATP World Tour Player Council, and I've used the transport time to meet with ATP World Tour officials, including Board of Directors Player Representative Justin Gimelstob, Treasury and Benefits Director Jorge Escallon and Chief Player Officer Ross Hutchins.

During the meetings, we talk about the future of tennis and how we can continue to improve the game. Jamie, though, spends his boat time a little differently. He usually rides over with his coach, Louis Cayer, and they discuss our upcoming matches. Jamie also loves to make sure his coach notices the London landmarks each and every time they hop on the boat.

“Have you seen The Shard? Have you seen the Tower of London?” Jamie will say to Louis, knowing full well Louis has seen them many times, including the day before, when Jamie asked him the exact same questions.

Some London transportation details, though, are just like they'd be during a regular week on the ATP World Tour. For instance, Jamie and I still don't talk much during our pre- and post-match rides. In fact, we don't talk at all.

If we play at night, like we did on Thursday, I'll hop on the noon boat because I like to watch about an hour of tennis in person before we practise or get ready for our match. Jamie, meanwhile, prefers to watch the tennis on TV for that hour, so he hops on the 1 p.m. boat with his coach.

You might question why we don't spend that time together prepping for our match, but trust me, our doubles partnership is better this way.

Bruno Soares spoke with Jonathon Braden

Top Year-End Matches At The Garden (1977-1989)

Fri, 11/18/2016 - 12:45pm

Since 2009, the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals has found a home in the iconic city of London with more world-class tennis scheduled at The O2 through to at least 2018. With the prospect of the biggest match in the tournament’s 46-year history on the cards, should Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic battle for year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings in Sunday’s final, ATPWorldTour.com looks back on the best matches at another of the season finale’s long-term former homes: Madison Square Garden in New York City.

This week, more than 30 former players who competed at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in the 1980s are joining current stars at The O2 as part of the ATP Finals Club. This year, the achievements of five-time winner Ivan Lendl, who reached nine straight finals, and three-time champion John McEnroe are recognised in the naming of the 2016 groups: Group Ivan Lendl, Group John McEnroe.

Just like The O2 in east London, competing in Madison Square Garden during a 12-year stint between 1977 and 1989, inspired the players to produce their best tennis, as New York’s glitterati turned out in force to witness epic battles on the illuminated court - home to the Knicks (basketball) and Rangers (ice hockey).

With the help of Steve Flink, one of tennis' pre-eminent historians and journalists, ATPWorldTour.com breaks down the best year-end championship matches at The Garden.

1977 Colgate-Palmolive Masters (January 1978) – Group B: Vilas d. Connors 64 36 75
In 1977, three players battled it out for No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings – Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors and Guillermo Vilas. Barry Lorge of The Washington Post wrote, “What had become obvious throughout the 1977 season: Borg, Vilas and Connors inhabit a plateau, a shade above all the other fine players on the landscape.” In the first Masters at Madison Square Garden, after seven editions held on different continents, Vilas’ produced a spell-binding victory over Connors in three hours, which reaffirmed his position as an elite force – having also beaten the American 2-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-0, a few months earlier, in the US Open final. Played in front of the largest crowd, to date, (18,500) in US tennis history, Vilas had won 83 of his past 84 matches. The standing ovation, at the end of the match, lasted two full minutes.

1978 Colgate-Palmolive Masters (January 1979) – Final: McEnroe d. Ashe 67 63 75
The 1978 final pitted the people’s choice, Arthur Ashe, a former ATP President, who was recovering from heel surgery that had sidelined him for most of 1977, against 19-year-old John McEnroe. The 17,000 fans got caught up in the generational clash, and there was a terrific atmosphere as neither player relented. The 35 year old Ashe adopted a clever, thoughtful game plan, fighting back from a 3/5 deficit in the first-set tie-break. McEnroe graduated from boy to proven professional by recovering from 1-4 in the deciding set, an emotional-wringer of a final over two-and-a-half hours. Ashe, later, almost pulled out a tremendous upset in holding two match points at 4-5. It was the biggest title of McEnroe’s career, at the time, and six months before the heart attack that ended Ashe’s playing career.

1979 Colgate-Palmolive Masters (January 1980) – Semi-final: Borg d. McEnroe 67(5) 63 76(1)
Borg and McEnroe had yet to meet in a Grand Slam final, but the quality lifted their seventh meeting into a class of its own. McEnroe rallied from 2-4 down to win the first set, which he clinched with a ferocious volley, despite not hitting any first serves into court in the tie-break. Watched by 15,347 spectators, the 23-year-old Borg had led 4-3, 40/0, but got careless and recovered to break once in the second set, combating McEnroe’s net charges with well-placed lobs. Borg was unerring in the final set tie-break, finishing the match with 47 clean winners. McEnroe made too many errors down the stretch and paid the price. “I put this title very, very high,” said Borg, afterwards. He’d beaten World Nos. 2-5 during the week.

Watch McEnroe Reflect On His Masters Memories

1979 Colgate-Palmolive Masters (January 1980) – Group A: Gerulaitis d. McEnroe 36 76(7) 76
A forgotten gem. Already assured of their semi-finals berths, Vitas Gerulaitis upset his Long Island neighbour McEnroe in an old school competition of serve-volley, attacking tennis, over two-and-a-half hours. It was just three months after McEnroe had beaten Gerulaitis 7-5, 6-3, 6-3 in the 1979 US Open final. Gerulaitis saved one match point in the second set tie-break at 5/6 with a service winner to McEnroe’s forehand. The deciding set went with serve until the ninth game, when Gerulaitis’ backhand return clipped the net and dropped over, but his advantage was short-lived. Both players, extraordinary in speed, anticipation and athleticism, enthralled the 14,820 fans - right up to Gerulaitis’ winning forehand drop volley.

1980 Volvo Masters (January 1981) – Group A: Borg d. McEnroe 64 67(3) 76(2)
McEnroe needed to beat Borg in order to remain alive in the tournament, having lost to Gene Mayer in his first round-robin match. In a classic match-up watched by a record-breaking indoor crowd of 19,103 spectators, including artist Andy Warhol, actor Robert Duvall and diplomat Henry Kissinger, Borg didn’t give McEnroe any rhythm and came from behind to serve for it at 6-5 in the second set. At 3/3 in the tie-break, Borg’s forehand pass was judged good by the linesman, but the chair umpire, Mike Lugg, over-ruled. Borg was incensed and stood by the umpire's chair refusing to continue. He got a point penalty that put him down 3/5 and then another to make it 3/6. McEnroe recalls, “I couldn’t believe it. Just imagine what the crowd would have done to me in that situation.” The supervisor, Dick Roberson, came out to talk to Borg, who finally elected to continue. “I was very mad, very disappointed,” said Borg, later. Did he think about quitting? “No.” Borg became aggressive in an excellent deciding set, which featured no break points. On the sixth point of the tie-break, Borg cracked a backhand return winner and McEnroe went on to make three further mistakes – a backhand volley and two approach shots. At 19 minutes past midnight, Borg was able to celebrate his meltdown and recovery.

1981 Volvo Masters (January 1982) – Group A: Tanner d. Connors 76(2) 67(1) 76(7)
Connors had won nine of their past 10 previous meetings, but this time – in a match that saw both players holding match points – it was Roscoe Tanner (0-2 in group matches) who won a pulsating encounter. The New York Times reported, “[Tanner] grew uncharacteristically angry when Connors put the end of his racquet in his mouth after one of Tanner’s volley trickled across the net for a winner in the seventh game of the second set.” Connors saved five match points and scored a break with Tanner serving at 5-3 in the third set. Connors was unable to convert two match points at 6/4 in the deciding tie-break, with Tanner hitting his 12th ace on the second point. His body cramping, Tanner missed a sixth match point at 7/6 with a backhand service return error. An overhead smash brought Tanner to 8/7 on Connors's serve, and Tanner then hit an unreturned second serve. As a result, Connors, the crowd favourite, did not qualify for the semi-finals.

1981 Volvo Masters (January 1982) – Final: Lendl d. Gerulaitis 67(5) 26 76(6) 62 64
Lendl had already beaten Gerulaitis 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 in their Group B round-robin match earlier in the week. In possibly Lendl’s second-best comeback, after the 1984 Roland Garros final, the Czech rallied in spectacular fashion for his first of five year-end crowns. Fred Stolle, who was coaching Gerulaitis, remembers: “Lendl was serving at 5-6 in the third set tie-break, down two sets to love. Having missed a first serve, Vitas took a step forward and played a backhand return. He looked to be chip-charging en route to the net, forcing Lendl to pass him on match point. But Vitas took two steps forward, and then four backwards. Lendl would clinch the tie-break 8-6 and go on to win in five sets.” Lendl came in on Vitas’ backhand, then hit a smash for a winner. Gerulaitis went on to double fault at 2-2 in the fifth set and was subsequently broken.

Remembering Vitas... 20 Years On (2014 Tribute)

1984 Volvo Masters (January 1985) – Semi-finals: Lendl d. Connors 75 67(5) 75
Weighing a trim 168lbs, Lendl had come to The Garden on a diet and in confident mood. Connors was down match point at 4-5 in the second set, but served his way out of it. In the third set, he led 5-2. The pro-Connors crowd, 18741-strong, sensed another Lendl collapse. There was no love lost between the pair in a tetchy affair. "You hate to lose to start with," said Lendl, post-match. "You can triple it when you play someone who wasn't treating you sportsman-like before." A man with a hand-held camera walked just outside of the court and was clearly looking to get a shot of Connors closing out the match, but Lendl saw him and waved him away. It made Lendl so angry that he was unstoppable the rest of the way and won five straight games to get the win – holding twice to love, and breaking Connors twice to 30 and 15, respectively. “All victories over Connors are important, but this is one of the nicer ones. If I’m not mistaken, this is the first time when the match was so close that I’ve won it.”

1984 Volvo Masters (January 1985) – Final: McEnroe d. Lendl 75 60 64
The 1984 year-end final was a perfect display of talent, and the perfect way to end McEnroe’s terrific season. The LA Times report stated, “It is difficult not to respect what McEnroe can do. Sunday, a crowd of 17,955 watched a tennis technician at work, putting together a masterwork.” McEnroe broke once in the first set, then lifted his game to new heights. His second-set whitewash was the first 6-0 set in their five-year rivalry, en route to winning 11 straight games. "For a 10-game period, I played as well as - or, if not, better than - any other game I played before," said McEnroe. "I feel as though my game is as high as it's ever been. I served well. I felt confident. I felt as though I could do anything I wanted with the ball." Upon receiving the keys to a new car, which had been parked courtside, McEnroe quipped, "I must have hit it 50 times this week. I'm glad it's mine now."

1988 Nabisco Masters – Final: Becker d. Lendl 57 76(5) 36 62 76(5)
The 1988 final pitted two great champions: Lendl, slightly past the prime of his 1984 Roland Garros to 1988 exploits, and Boris Becker, about to start his greatest season, 1989, when he won Wimbledon and the US Open. Playing against the advice of doctors, Lendl, who had not competed for three months due to shoulder surgery, grew stronger as the week went on. Becker broke Lendl three times in the fourth set, then rallied after being broken in the 11th game of the decider. Serving with new balls and a new racquet (as Lendl did with new balls), the Czech got to 30/30, then Becker attacked a second serve and forced an uncharacteristic error. Becker then proceeded to strike a forehand winner down the line to force a tie-break. “At the end, I was just playing,” said Becker. “I didn’t even know the score.” Serving at 6-5 in the tie-break, Becker and Lendl played a 37-stroke rally, resulting in a net cord winner off a Becker backhand. ''This tournament has a lot to do with prestige and pride,” said Becker, who had walked to the net with a West German flag, given to him by a fan, draped over a shoulder. “Beating Ivan in the final gives me even more satisfaction. I am playing the very best tennis of my life.”

Read Exclusive: Lendl Remembers Masters In 1980s, Helping Murray

What A Point! Schwartzman Agility On Full Display In Montevideo

Fri, 11/18/2016 - 5:21am
Diego Schwartzman covers every inch of the court to claim a stunning point at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Brain Game: Serve +1 Is Winning Formula For Raonic

Fri, 11/18/2016 - 1:55am

Milos Raonic is not just a serve. Think of him much more along the lines of a “Serve +1”.

Raonic defeated Dominic Thiem 7-6(5), 6-3 on Thursday evening at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, dominating the short points and fusing together his two biggest weapons into one lethal package.

Serve +1 is a ruthless, doubling down strategy of purposefully following the serve with a forehand. Raonic’s primary pattern of play is to then typically match that combination up against a backhand return, and then a defensive backhand on the run.

The percentage breakdown below between hitting a forehand or backhand immediately behind either a first or second serve clearly shows the efficiency of Raonic’s strategy.

Raonic 1st Serves

  • 85% Serve +1 forehand (won 82%)
  • 15% Serve + 1 backhand (won 0%)

Raonic 2nd Serves

  • 64% Serve +1 forehand (won 50%)
  • 36% Serve +1 backhand (won 25%)

Dominic Thiem was not quite as aggressive as Raonic pursing the Serve +1 forehand strategy, but it still delivered a higher winning percentage for him when he did employ it.

Thiem 1st Serves

  • 74% Serve +1 forehand (won 53%)
  • 26% Serve + 1 backhand (won 38%)

Thiem 2nd Serves

  • 47% Serve +1 forehand (won 50%)
  • 53% Serve +1 backhand (won 40%)

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Raw speed was used by both players to immediately control the beginning of the point, with Raonic’s first serve averaging 125mph, and Thiem’s not far behind at 116mph. This naturally produced a match dominated by short rallies, with greater than 70 per cent of all points requiring either player to hit a maximum of just two shots in a rally.

Rally Length   

Rally Length

Total Points

Raonic Won

Thiem Won

0-4 Shots

71% (96)

57% (55)

43% (41)

5-9 Shots

24% (32)

47% (15)

53% (17)

10+ Shots

5% (7)

71% (5)

29% (2)

Totals

100% (135)

75

60

The biggest pool of points by far was in the 0-4 shot range at 71 per cent, with Raonic winning a very healthy 57 per cent (55) of them. Thiem slightly edged Raonic in the mid-length rallies of 5-9 shots 17-15, while the Canadian took the honours in the extended rallies of 10 shots or longer seven to two.

With all forehands in the match, Raonic hit 59 per cent of them cross-court, and 41 per cent down the line. Interestingly, Thiem’s average forehand speed was slightly higher than Raonic’s at 78mph to 77mph. Thiem also edged Raonic in backhand speed as well (excluding slice backhands) at 73mph to 72mph. Once you factor in the slice backhands, both players averaged 68mph, which is a substantial drop of around 10mph compared to forehands.

In the baseline rallies, Thiem felt the magnetism of the baseline more than Raonic did, hitting 25 per cent of shots inside the baseline, compared to just 20 per cent for the Canadian. Raonic made contact with 40 per cent of his shots in the “deep zone”, more than two metres behind the baseline, while Thiem was only back that far 35 per cent of the time.

Raonic’s serve strategy was to take the fastest way home, focusing right down the middle in both service boxes, which also helped provide no angle for Thiem to immediately find Raonic’s backhand with the first shot after the serve.

Raonic 1st Serve Direction

Deuce Court

  • Wide 44%
  • Body 0%
  • T 56%

Ad Court

  • Wide 26%
  • Body 11%
  • T 63%

Raonic now moves through to the semi-finals, where he will undoubtedly continue his Serve +1 onslaught. It’s a proven pattern of play that is almost impossible to stop.

Milos Raonic keeps the points short against Dominic Thiem at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

Federer Saves 4 M.P. In 2014 London Finale Classic Moment

Fri, 11/18/2016 - 1:51am
In this Barclays ATP World Tour Finals Classic Moment, Roger Federer saves four match points to win a pulsating semi-final against Stan Wawrinka in 2014. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.

Murray, Wawrinka Square Off For Semi-Final Spot In London

Fri, 11/18/2016 - 1:22am
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Andy Murray meets Stan Wawrinka in Group John McEnroe at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, with both hoping to qualify for tomorrow's semi-finals.

Just down the Thames from the security services' riverside headquarters, Murray is showing all the mental fortitude and resilience of an MI5 operative.

In the last days of the tennis year, Murray's willpower isn't in doubt. Anyone who watched Murray's victory over Nishikori on Wednesday - all three hours and 20 minutes of it - can't possibly have any concerns about the Briton's mind. He can be excused a few sarcastic reactions to his errors as his mind never wandered off from what he needed to be doing. But what isn't clear is how Murray's body will respond after what was the longest best-of-three-sets match in the tournament's history. Perhaps, after all the ice baths and other treatment that the Wimbledon champion will have before playing Wawrinka, it will come back to Murray's strength of character.

How badly does Murray want to be the first Briton to win the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals? And how badly does he want to hold off Novak Djokovic and finish at the year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings? Will Murray's willpower override any pain and fatigue in his legs? From what we have seen so far, Murray couldn't be any more resolute about what he hopes to achieve before the greatest season of his life comes to an end. As well as a strong mind, Murray has momentum. And lots of it as victory would take his winning streak to 22 matches, equalling the career best streak he put together earlier this year.

For the past three years, Wawrinka has always qualified from his group, but can he be a semi-finalist for a fourth season in succession?

Kei Nishikori, who has hopes of going on to win the biggest title of his career, today plays Marin Cilic in Group John McEnroe at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

Nishikori doesn't go quietly and he doesn't go quickly. There was the Davis Cup rubber defeat to Andy Murray in Birmingham in March, a five-setter which was just a few minutes short of five hours. And then, on Wednesday, Nishikori was beaten by Murray in three hours and 20 minutes, making it the longest best-of-three-sets match in the history of the season finale.

Nishikori, so full of fight against Murray, mustn't let himself be eaten up by the disappointment of that latest long-form defeat as it's still possible that this week could bring him his greatest high. Should he go through to tomorrow's semi-finals, the Japanese would then be just two match victories away from scoring what would be the biggest title of his tennis life. Two years ago, during a week in which he became the first Asian to feature in the singles field at the season finale, Nishikori made the last four but couldn't go any further as he ran into Novak Djokovic, with that match commanding the attention of more than 10 million television viewers in Japan.

While Nishikori didn't make it out of his group last November, there's scope this week for him to really contend for The Brad Drewett Trophy. This match features the same two players who appeared in the 2014 US Open final, a match Cilic won to scoop his first Grand Slam (that was the day that Nishikori made some history by being the first Asian to go so deep into a major singles tournament). If Nishikori were to go on to play for the title, he could draw on the experience of his coach, Michael Chang, a finalist in 1995 when the season finale was played in Frankfurt. But Nishikori would clearly want to improve on how Chang performed that year - he lost to Boris Becker, now Djokovic's coach. 

Day 6 Preview

Group John McEnroe action concludes on Friday with two semi-final spots on the line. World No. 1 Andy Murray, No. 3 Stan Wawrinka and No. 5 Kei Nishikori all look to advance to the semi-finals at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. If Murray fails to qualify for the semi-finals, Novak Djokovic will finish 2016 as the World No. 1. See semi-final scenarios below.                         

In the day session match, Murray and Wawrinka square off for the 17th time (Murray leads 9-7) and Murray won the last meeting in four sets in the semi-finals at Roland Garros on June 3. This is the second straight year they are meeting in the final round robin match at The O2. Last year Wawrinka won 76 64 to advance to the semi-finals for the third straight year. Murray enters on a 21-match winning streak and he has a 2-0 round robin record for the first time since his season finale debut in 2008 Shanghai where he went 3-0 and reached the semi-finals. Murray also reached the semi-finals at The O2 in 2010 and 2012. He must win one set to advance to the semi-finals and keep pace with Djokovic for the year-end No. 1 ranking. With Murray losing 275 points on November 28 from the 2015 Davis Cup final, the Serbian is actually ahead in the race for year-end No. 1. Djokovic, who has 11,380 points on the season, is trying to finish No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings for the third straight year and fifth time in six years. Murray will have 11,510 points if he beats the Swiss No. 1.  Wawrinka is looking for his fourth career win over a World No. 1, the first outside a Grand Slam final. He is 3-0 vs. World No. 1s in Slam finals and 0-19 otherwise. Milos Raonic leads the race to finish No. 3 in the Emirates ATP Rankings with 5,450 points followed by Wawrinka (5,315) and Nishikori (4,905). All three players are trying to finish No. 3 for the first time.

In the evening session, Nishikori brings a 7-5 FedEx ATP Head 2 Head record against Marin Cilic although the Croat has won the last two meetings this season. They last met in the final of Basel on Oct. 30 with Cilic winning 61 76. Cilic is trying to earn his first ATP Finals match win (0-5).He went 0-3 in his debut two years ago. If Nishikori wins, he will advance to the semi-finals for the second time in three years. Nishikori could also advance to the semi-finals if he loses and Murray defeats Wawrinka.

Group Fleming/McEnroe Semi-finals Qualification Scenarios (Friday)

1) Regardless of score, if A. MURRAY defeats S. WAWRINKA and K. NISHIKORI defeats M. CILIC, then A. MURRAY wins the group and K. NISHIKORI qualifies 2nd.

2) Regardless of score, if A. MURRAY defeats S. WAWRINKA and M. CILIC defeats K. NISHIKORI, then A. MURRAY wins the group and K. NISHIKORI qualifies 2nd.

3) Regardless of score, if S. WAWRINKA defeats A. MURRAY and M. CILIC defeats K. NISHIKORI, then S. WAWRINKA wins the group and A. MURRAY qualifies 2nd.

4) If S. WAWRINKA defeats A. MURRAY in 2 sets and K. NISHIKORI defeats M. CILIC in 2 sets, then K. NISHIKORI wins the group and S. WAWRINKA qualifies 2nd.

5) If S. WAWRINKA defeats A. MURRAY in 2 sets and K. NISHIKORI defeats M. CILIC in 3 sets, then S. WAWRINKA wins the group and K. NISHIKORI qualifies 2nd.

6) If S. WAWRINKA defeats A. MURRAY in 3 sets and K. NISHIKORI defeats M. CILIC in 2 sets, then K. NISHIKORI wins the group and A. MURRAY qualifies 2nd.

7) If S. WAWRINKA defeats A. MURRAY in 3 sets and K. NISHIKORI defeats M. CILIC in 3 sets, then A. MURRAY wins the group and K. NISHIKORI qualifies 2nd.

In the opening Group Fleming/McEnroe doubles match, No. 1 Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut take on No. 5 Henri Kontinen and John Peers for the third time (tied 1-1). Kontinen and Peers, who have clinched the group with a 2-0 record, enter on a seven-match winning streak after winning their biggest career title at ATP Masters 1000 Paris where they defeated Herbert/Mahut 64 36 10-6 on Nov. 6. They have beaten all 7 other Barclays ATP World Tour Finals teams in 2016 (6 since Oct. 14). The Frenchmen, who have been eliminated from semi-final contention, need a win to overtake Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares in the Emirates ATP Doubles Team Rankings. Murray and Soares lead by 25 points after going 3-0 in group play. With a win, Mahut would also clinch year-end No. 1 in the individual Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings. If Mahut loses and Soares wins the title, the Brazilian will finish No. 1. In the evening match, No. 4 Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez meet No. 7 Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram, who won the previous meeting at ATP Masters 1000 Madrid in May. The winner of this match will qualify into the semi-finals as the second place team.

Group Fleming/McEnroe Semi-finals Qualification Scenarios (Friday)

1) Regardless of score, KONTINEN / J. PEERS win the group and the winner of R. KLAASEN / R. RAM and F. LOPEZ / M. LOPEZ qualify 2nd.

Raonic Reaches SFs In London

Fri, 11/18/2016 - 1:17am
Milos Raonic talks about his win against Dominic Thiem and making the semi-finals at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.

Thiem Goes Behind Raonic For Hot Shot Winner

Fri, 11/18/2016 - 1:15am
Dominic Thiem slaps a backhand behind Milos Raonic for a Hot Shot winner at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on Thursday evening. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com. Photo: Peter Staples / ATP World Tour

Daily Snapshot: London Day Five

Fri, 11/18/2016 - 12:40am
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Missed a moment of the action on Thursday at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals? Here’s your executive summary:

1) Raonic Rolls Into Semi-Finals

With fourth seed Milos Raonic and eighth seed Dominic Thiem battling each other for a place in the final four, it was the Canadian who came out on top in a tight 7-6(5), 6-3 victory. Raonic had never won a match at The O2 prior to this week. Read Match Report

Raonic's Serve +1 strategy of following up his big serves with a forehand proved to be particularly effective. With the Canadian's first serve averaging 125mph, he consistently kept the Austrian on his back foot and gave him few opportunities to control the match. Read Brain Game

2) Players Take On The Gong Challenge

Andy Murray and a slew of other players competing in the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals tried their luck at hitting a gong perched up in the stands of The O2. While some nailed it with ease, others need a bit of practise.

3) Djokovic Continues O2 Dominance

Second seed Novak Djokovic continued his bid for a fifth straight title in London with a dominant 6-1, 6-2 win over David Goffin, who replaced Gael Monfils due to the Frenchman pulling out with a rib injury. Djokovic finished with a perfect 3-0 record in Group Ivan Lendl and improved his FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Goffin to 5-0.

The Serbian advanced to the semi-finals of the season-ending championships for the fifth straight year and seventh time in the past 10 years. He has now won 21 of his past 22 matches at the O2. Read Match Report

His win also means his battle with Andy Murray to finish the year at the top of the Emirates ATP Rankings continues to heat up. Both Djokovic and Murray can leave London as World No. 1 by winning the title. Read Battle For Year-End No. 1 Explained

4) Quote Of The Day

“It's not easy to come out on the court and play your best tennis in this situation. Yesterday, I was feeling a little bit like I was on holiday, and all of a sudden somebody tells you that you have to play in front of 15,000 people against Novak.” – Goffin, revealing how far in advance he knew he’d have to play Djokovic.

5) Murray/Soares Complete Hat Trick

Second seeds Jamie Murray/Bruno Soares went 3-0 in Group Edberg/Jarryd, completing their clean sweep with a 6-3, 3-6, 10-6 win over sixth seeds Ivan Dodig/Marcelo Melo. Murray/Soares can still overtake Pierre-Hugues Herbert/Nicolas Mahut as the year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Doubles Team Rankings, depending on the outcome of the Frenchmen’s final round-robin match on Friday. Read Match Report

Joining them in the semi-finals are third seeds Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan, who booked their spot with a 6-4, 6-4 win over eighth seeds Treat Huey/Max Mirnyi. They are pursuing their 113th career ATP World Tour title in London. Read Match Report

Raonic Joins Djokovic In London SFs Highlights

Fri, 11/18/2016 - 12:39am
Watch highlights of Milos Raonic and Novak Djokovic reaching the semi-finals of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com. Photo: Peter Staples / ATP World Tour