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They are great friends, but do Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert have any surprises for each other?
Group Ilie Nastase matchups conclude on Friday with Nadal-Ferrer and Wawrinka-Murray.
Watch Hot Shot as John Peers experiences one of doubles' occupational hazards. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.
Roger Federer improves to 3-0 in London after beating Kei Nishikori. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.
Watch Hot Shot as the Bryan brothers use spins and angles to set up the point. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.
Roger Federer has already sealed a record 13th semi-final berth at the ATP World Tour Finals but second place in Stan Smith Group is still up for grabs on Day 5 at The O2, with Novak Djokovic, Tomas Berdych and Kei Nishikori all in contention.
In the day session, No. 3 seed Federer will look to finish unbeaten (3-0) in round-robin play as he faces the No. 8 seed Kei Nishikori. Federer has a 3-2 Fed Ex ATP Head2Head advantage against the Japanese native, winning their last meeting 6-3, 6-2 here a year ago in a second round-robin match.
Federer clinched his place in the semi-finals with his 50th career match win on Tuesday, a 7-5, 6-2 triumph over Djokovic. It was his third win over the Serb this year, all in straight sets. The 34-year-old Swiss beat Berdych 6-4, 6-2 on Sunday. Federer’s six ATP World Tour titles this year is second only to Djokovic’s 10.
Nishikori lost to Djokovic 6-1, 6-1 to open his season-ending champaign on Sunday and followed with a 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 win over Berdych on Tuesday. At 25, he is the youngest player in the field and making his second straight appearance at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
World No. 1 Djokovic will attempt to bounce back from his first loss since August 23 when he takes on No. 6 seed Berdych in the final round-robin match of the group. Djokovic has a commanding 20-2 Fed Ex ATP Head2Head record against the Czech, including 17-0 on hard courts. This is the fifth time in the past six years they will meet at The O2 (except ’13) and the Serb has won all four meetings.
Djokovic, the reigning three-time champion, is making his ninth consecutive appearance in the season finale. His loss to Federer broke a streak of 38 consecutive indoor match wins, 23 overall this season and 15 straight at The O2.
Berdych will be searching for his first win at this year’s season-ending championship. He is making his sixth consecutive appearance in the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals (6-12 record) with his best result being a semi-final finish in 2011.
In afternoon doubles action, No. 5 seeds and Australian Open champions Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini meet No. 8 seeds Rohan Bopanna and Florin Mergea, who have already clinched a spot in the semi-finals by winning the Ashe-Smith Group. In the second match, the winner between top seeds and reigning champions Bob and Mike Bryan and No. 4 seeds Jamie Murray and John Peers will advance to the semi-finals. Both teams are 1-1 so far.
The Bryans, who are trying to reach the semi-finals for the 10th time in 13 year-end championship appearances (they did not play in ’07 due to Mike’s injury), must win to keep their hopes alive of finishing No. 1 in the year-end Emirates ATP Rankings. The Bryans are also tied with Daniel Nestor for most match wins (34) in year-end championship history.
Stan Smith Group Semi-final Qualifications Scenarios
2. Djokovic 1. Federer
2. Djokovic 1. Federer
2. Djokovic 1. Federer
Djokovic in 3 1. Federer
2. Djokovic 1. Federer
Berdych in 2 1. Federer
2. Berdych 1. Federer
2. Federer 1. Nishikori
Berdych in 3 1. Federer
2. Djokovic 1. Federer
lie Nastase Semi-final Qualification Scenarios
Fleming/McEnroe Group Semi-final Qualification Scenarios
Matkowski/Zimonjic in 2 Matkowski/Zimonjic in 3
Rojer/Tecau in 2 1. Rojer/Tecau
2. Dodig/Melo 1. Rojer/Tecau
2. Matkowski/Zimonjic 1. Rojer/Tecau
2. High % of Games Won
Rojer/Tecau in 3
Herbert/Mahut in 2 1. Rojer/Tecau
Herbert/Mahut in 3
Ashe/Smith Group Semi-final Qualification Scenarios
Entering a match on the wrong end of a 15-6 FedEx ATP Head2Head record, Andy Murray’s mission to secure second spot in the year-end Emirates ATP Rankings with a victory over Rafael Nadal was always likely to be tough going. Still, the Scot had beaten the Spanish World No. 5 in their only meeting this year to claim the ATP Masters 1000 Madrid title.
But at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on Wednesday, he faced a resurgent Nadal, a player coming into form at the tail-end of what has been his most difficult season. “Obviously when he's inside the court, he's extremely, extremely good. He can move his forehand around very well. He can use all of the angles on the court and make you do a lot of moving,” Murray said after the 6-4, 6-1 defeat.
“He obviously played better today than he did when I played him earlier in the year … Also, I didn't help myself out there today. I served extremely low percentage, maybe lowest percentage I served the whole year in any match … That's not good enough against someone as good as Rafa.”
Despite the loss, Murray is still in prime position to seal No. 2 in the Emirates ATP Rankings and still has a shot at progressing to the knockout stage of the season finale.
Murray was aware of the standard he came up against on Wednesday. He saw a player across the net who he had no doubt, would be among the top contenders once more in 2016.
“For a few months this year he was struggling for form a little bit. But I think almost every player goes through that at some stage during their career,” Murray said of Nadal.
“I think a lot of the players still felt like, providing he stayed injury-free, that he would raise his game again and compete at the top of the game. So I'm not really surprised by that.”
Murray must now beat Stan Wawrinka to advance to the semi-final stage of the season finale. Should he beat this year’s Roland Garros champion, a rematch with Nadal would be possible in the title match on Sunday.
“Obviously I lost comfortably to Rafa today and I could play him in a couple days' time and it could be a different story,” Murray said. “I'm sure Novak (Djokovic) feels the same way about his match with Roger (Federer) … I'm not trying to finish second in the group. I'm trying to win every match that I play.”
Rafael Nadal defeated Andy Murray 6-4, 6-1 in their second round-robin match at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on Wednesday, with Murray unsuccessfully trying to dismantle the indefatigable Nadal's backhand.
The Spaniard typically likes to hit as many forehands as possible, but this match-up clearly showed that the Nadal backhand currently has nothing to fear from the Murray forehand.
Nadal hit 55 per cent backhands and 45 per cent forehands for the match, which is extremely uncharacteristic from the former World No. 1.
The reason was simple - Murray’s cross-court forehand through the deuce court lacked the depth, power, or spin to make Nadal uncomfortable from his backhand wing.
Nadal hit 70 per cent of his backhands cross court to Murray’s passive forehand, which accumulated only three winners, while committing 12 unforced errors in this primary baseline pattern of play.
Nadal’s backhand felt little pressure from Murray’s forehand, as the Spaniard was quite happy to exchange shots through the deuce court before finding the right ball to upgrade with a run-around forehand.
Both players averaged 74 miles per hour (mph) off their forehand side, with Murray's backhand averaging 69 mph to Nadal’s 67 mph.
The deuce court sparring extracted only five backhand unforced errors from Nadal, as Murray’s cross-court forehand continuously landed without any venom around the service line.
The best way to understand the difference between the two groundstrokes is that the forehand behaves like an offensive “sword”, while the backhand takes on the role of the defensive “shield”.
In this match, Murray’s sword did very little to bother Nadal’s shield.
Murray hit 62 per cent forehands from the back of the court, and hit 74 per cent of them cross court, but the winner to error ratio played out much more in the Nadal’s favor.
It’s extremely rare that you will see Nadal accept so many backhands. In his opening round match against Stan Wawrinka, Nadal hit 59 per cent forehands, and only 41 per cent backhands from the back of the court.
Against Murray, Nadal dominated short rallies of 0-4 shots (26-16), lost the mid-length rallies of 5-9 shots (19-22), but completely dominated the longer rallies (16-5).
Nadal Serving Patterns
A winning adjustment Nadal made with his serve location was to target the body a lot more in the Ad court than we are accustomed to see.
In the Ad court, Nadal served 65 per cent of all serves at Murray’s body, seeking a jam forehand slice return, boomeranging the return right back down the middle of the court.
Nadal only hit 23 per cent down the middle T in the Ad court, and 12 per cent (two first serves / one second serve) slicing out wide, where he normally loves to hit most Ad court serves.
In the deuce court, Nadal stuck his to his favourite pattern of slicing down the middle to the right-hander’s backhand, hitting 44 per cent of his serves there, 37 per cent at the body, and successfully surprising 19 per cent out wide to Murray’s forehand return.
Murray’s 2nd Serves
Murray amazingly only won one of 10 second serves in the second set, and a lowly 34 per cent (10/29) for the entire match. In set two, Murray directed nine second serves to Nadal’s dominant forehand side, and four to the backhand. Those are confusing tactics that didn’t simply didn’t pay off.
Murray’s slowest second serve was a pedestrian 82 mph - much slower than the 103 mph forehand groundstroke Novak Djokovic struck against Roger Federer the previous evening.
Murray’s fastest second serve was 104 mph, and he averaged 89 mph, which is a gift to Nadal, It gives the Spaniard time to run around a second serve directed to his backhand, and upgrade to a stronger forehand return.
Nadal has now defeated Wawrinka and Murray in straight sets, making both opponents tap out mentally and emotionally in the second set.
Nadal has been missing from the top of the leaderboard in 2015, but his form here in the first two matches suggests he will be a force to be reckoned with in 2016.
Nadal’s energy, confidence, and patterns of play are rapidly returning to a level that can once again be the benchmark at the elite level of our sport.
Andy Murray had a tough day at the office on Tuesday at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
Not only did he have to contend with an in-form Rafael Nadal, the World No. 2 was also bothered by his own hairdo. Murray would take matters into his own hands at the next changeover. However, it was not enough as he fell to the Spaniard in straight sets.
No. 4 seed Stan Wawrinka kept his semi-final hopes alive on Wednesday in London, downing No. 7 David Ferrer 7-5, 6-2 in round-robin action at The O2.
Ferrer came into the match with a 7-6 advantage in their Fed Ex ATP Head2Head rivalry, but the Swiss has now prevailed in their last four matches. This was their first meeting of 2015.
It was Ferrer who scored the first break of the match to go up 3-1. But with the Spaniard serving for the opening set at 5-3, an ill-timed double fault brought the match back on serve. Wawrinka grabbed another break at 5-all and went on to serve out the set.
The 30-year-old carried that momentum into the second set, service breaks in the first and fifth games leading him to victory, his career-best 54th of the season.
"My game start to feel better out there," said Wawrinka, who finished with three aces and won 67 per cent (20 of 30) of his first-serve points. "I didn't start well. I starting to play a little bit better the middle of the first set. I'm a little bit lucky he gave me back the game to come back. I'm quite happy with the win, especially to turn around the first set and finish that way."
"He's improved his game," said Ferrer. "He has a really good serve. He's improve that the last two or three years."
Wawrinka, who totaled 34 winners to 35 unforced errors in the win, is making his third consecutive appearance at the year-end finale after reaching the semi-finals the past two years. His victory means that Rafael Nadal (2-0) has won the Group Ilie Nastase.
The 33-year-old Ferrer, the second oldest player in the singles field behind Roger Federer (34), is trying to avoid a repeat of 2013, when he lost all three round-robin matches (Wawrinka, Nadal, Tomas Berdych).
No. 2 seeds Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau remained perfect in Group Fleming/McEnroe play on Wednesday, improving to 2-0 with a 6-4, 7-6(3) win over No. 3 seeds Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
The one-hour, 21-minute win assures the Dutch-Romanian combo a spot in the semi-finals.
Rojer/Tecau dropped just three points on serve in taking the opening set in 32 minutes, their lone break coming in the third game.
The Wimbledon titlists would again score a service break in the third game to distance themselves in the second set. Dodig/Melo, who had rallied from a set and a break down in their opener against Pierre-Hugues Herbert/Nicolas Mahut, managed to force a tie-break, but their opponents wouldn’t be stopped.
The second-year tandem avenged their loss to Dodig/Melo in their only previous FedEx ATP Head2Head encounter, a 6-3, 7-5 defeat in the Roland Garros semi-finals.
Both teams remain in the hunt for No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Team Rankings. Gaining 200 points from Wednesday's win, Rojer/Tecau move back in front of Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan, who are bidding for an 11th year-end No. 1 finish. Four teams can finish the season atop the rankings.
Find out how well the Frenchmen know each other off the court.
Andy Murray makes an on-court adjustment to his hairstyle during his match against Rafael Nadal. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.
Lleyton Hewitt, who will retire after the 2016 Australian Open, was honoured at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on Wednesday.
Hewitt, a two-time year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings in 2001 and 2002, was presented with a special frame by Chris Kermode, the ATP Executive Chairman & President in an on-court ceremony that included fellow former World No. 1s John McEnroe, Mats Wilander and Boris Becker.
The 34-year-old Hewitt won the 2001 and 2002 season finales in Sydney and Shanghai, respectively. He also captured the 2001 US Open (d. Sampras) and 2002 Wimbledon (d. Nalbandian) titles and was recently appointed as Australia's Davis Cup captain.
"I feel old. I've just being watching Andy [Murray] and Rafa [Nadal] and I was thinking that the game has evolved so much over the years," said Hewitt. "It was many years ago that I won this season-ending tournament and when I held the No. 1 trophy. The Tour has been a big part of my life, and I've loved every minute of it. Thank you to everyone for supporting me."
Argentine rugby stars Pablo Matera and Santiago Cordero enjoy a visit to the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on Wednesday.
Watch Hot Shot as Andy Murray chases down a near-perfect Nadal drop shot. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.
Stefan Edberg was presented with an International Tennis Hall of Fame ring by Christopher Clouser, Chairman of the International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum and Todd Martin, the CEO of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum.
The ceremony underlined the Swede’s illustrious playing career, during which he recorded 806 wins, won 41 titles and attained number one in the Emirates ATP Rankings in both singles and doubles. The serve-and-volleyer reached the final of all four Grand Slam events, winning six in total. He defeated nemesis Boris Becker to capture the 1989 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals and finished runner-up to Andre Agassi the following year.
The London resident is now in the midst of a successful second career in tennis, coaching World No. 3 Roger Federer, who has already qualified for the semi-finals of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals by winning his first two round-robin matches in straight sets.
The last time they faced off, Andy Murray got the better of Rafael Nadal on the Spaniard's home soil in Madrid. Nadal returned the favour on Wednesday with a 6-4, 6-1 win in Group Ilie Nastase action at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London.
"It is an important victory, because that put me in a good position to try to be in the semi-finals, and at the same time I have had a big day against a great player on a tough surface," said Nadal. "I'm just happy the way that I played today, happy the way I was working. Just another step for me be able to play at that level, against such a great player, is good news. Happy for that. Just want to try to keep working the same way to keep confirming that I am in the completely right direction."
With John McEnroe, Lleyton Hewitt, Boris Becker and Mats Wilander looking on, Murray snatched the immediate initiative in breaking to 15 in the first game. Nadal failed to convert a first serve in the opener, but the Manacor native would pull level in the next game, refusing to allow Murray to consolidate the break. A slew of wayward groundstrokes would put the Scot in a hole while serving in both the sixth and eighth games, facing a combined five break points. Nadal's attacking mentality was evident, stepping inside the baseline and seeking to dictate with his forehand, but the Spaniard failed to convert and swing momentum to his side of the net. Murray would find himself in trouble once again two games later, staring down a 0/40 deficit. This time, Nadal would not let the opportunity slip, capturing the first set after 57 minutes.
infosys ATP Insights show that Nadal served into Murray's body 65 percent of the time in the Ad court. See more Infosys ATP Insights
Nadal pulled away immediately in the second set. Murray struck nine unforced errors through the opening three games, as Nadal reeled off 10 of 11 points to break for 2-0 and consolidate his advantage. It would be one-way traffic from then on, grabbing a second break for 5-1 and closing out the win after 91 minutes. He fired 12 winners and benefitted from 29 Murray unforced errors.
The World No. 5 earned his 60th match win of the year and will look to cap a strong finish to the season with a fifth semi-final berth in seven trips to the Final Showdown. Sitting at 2-0 in Group Ilie Nastase, he awaits the result of the second singles match of the day at The O2, between Stan Wawrinka and David Ferrer. Nadal would advance with a Wawrinka victory or a Ferrer win in three sets.
Murray's quest to secure his first year-end World No. 2 in the Emirates ATP Rankings will wait another day, as he also continues his bid for a first title in eight season finale appearances. The Scot, who remains at 69 match wins for the season, would finish as the second-ranked player with either a Roger Federer loss at any point of the tournament or victory on Friday against Wawrinka. At 1-1, he is alive in Round Robin play, having defeated David Ferrer in straight sets on Monday.
"He was able to dictate most of the points and he was hitting the ball harder than he was at the beginning of the match," said Murray. "I was starting to drop the ball shorter. Obviously when he's inside the court, he's extremely, extremely good. He can move his forehand around very well. He can use all of the angles on the court and make you do a lot of moving.
"He's clearly playing better tennis now than a few months ago. Also I didn't help myself out there today. I served extremely low percentage, maybe lowest percentage I served the whole year in any match. It was like the low 40s and in the second set like 35 per cent. That's not good enough against someone as good as Rafa."
Nadal now owns a 16-6 record in the FedEx ATP Head2Head with this being their first hard-court clash since the 2011 Tokyo final, won by Murray. The Scot claimed their lone meeting this year in the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final in Madrid.
Frenchmen Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut recorded their first win in Group Fleming/McEnroe on Wednesday at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
Sixth seeds Herbert and Mahut defeated seventh seeds Marcin Matkowski and Nenad Zimonjic 5-7, 6-3, 10-8 in one hour and 33 minutes to improve to 1-1 in round-robin play. It was a re-match of the Aegon Championships final in June, which Herbert and Mahut won. The pair are now 30-12 on the season, which also includes the US Open title (d. J. Murray-Peers).
Herbert and Mahut took a 3-1 lead, breaking Zimonjic to 30 in the third game. But the Polish-Serbian team responded winning three straight games and broke Mahut to 15 to wrap up the 41-minute opener. Matkowski was broken twice in the second set, at 2-2 and 3-5, as Herbert and Mahut regained the momentum. In a closely fought tie-break, the Frenchmen established an 8/5 advantage.
Matkowski and Zimonjic dropped to an 0-2 record in Group Fleming/McEnroe and to 33-22 on the season, which includes three titles runs.
Watch Hot Shot as Pierre-Hugues Herbert creates an extreme angle from a difficult position. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.