The culminating event of the ATP Word Tour is set to begin on Sunday afternoon in London, and will commence with the host nation’s own Andy Murray, as he begins his seventh consecutive campaign at the year-end finals against Japanese No. 1 Kei Nishikori. The Scot leads the head-to-head series 3-0, yet this marks their first meeting in 2014 – a season that has arguably been Kei’s career best.
After a poor start to the season that saw Murray struggle on the tour and slip in the rankings, the British No. 1 underwent a drastic campaign over the past five weeks that saw him win three titles and reach the quarter-final round of the Paris Masters to effectively qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. His title streak snapped a 15-month drought that began following his historic title win at the 2013 Wimbledon Championships.
With the support of his new coach Amelie Mauresmo, Murray will look to carry forth the momentum and confidence he built over the past few weeks to maintain his undefeated streak against Nishikori.
Sitting at a career-high ranking of world No. 5, Kei Nishikori has wholeheartedly embraced his newfound spot in the upper echelon of the ATP World Tour. After lifting his fourth title of the season on home soil in Tokyo, Nishikori suffered a slight hiccup in Shanghai, where he lost to Jack Sock in his opening match, but rebounded to reach the semi-final round of the Paris Bercy.
There, he encountered his US Open opponent Novak Djokovic, yet was unable to replicate his efforts this time around and lost in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3. While it was a less-than-stellar conclusion to his regular season, it does not undermine the remainder of his remarkable achievements in 2014.
This marks the fourth time that these two competitors will meet on the professional tour, with Murray leading the series with an impenetrable 3-0 mark. However, Murray notched those wins during his peak form ahead of the 2013 Wimbledon Championships, and before Nishikori underwent his transformation to become a bonafide contender.
Prediction: Andy Murray in Three Sets