Kei Nishikori made an emphatic splash in his Barclays ATP World Tour Final debut. Not only did the Japanese No. 1 win his first ever match at the year-end championships, he did so with a straight sets victory over two-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray on the Scot’s backyard.
Nishikori survived an early break down and a turbulent second set to defeat Murray 6-4, 6-4 in the first match of Group B play on Sunday. It also marked his first win over the British No. 1 in four attempt.
The Japanese player proved to be more solid from the baseline and dictated most of the rallies, forcing Murray to miss on several occasions. The Scot’s weak second serve (only won 27% of points after 2nd serve) was simply far from enough to challenge Nishikori on the opening day of the ATP Finals.
“I was a little bit tight in the beginning, but I started feeling a little more confident in especially second set,” said Nishikori. “I was very, very solid… I was a little bit surprised at how I played on the court: very confident. I’m looking forward to play the next match.”
Murray, who worked his way from 0-3 down to 4-3 up in the second set, was unable to sustain his efforts late in the match and eventually gave in to the pressure from Nishikori.
Following the match, the Scot cited the fast court and his poor serving as the reason why he was unable to find his form on court.
“It’s obviously disappointing to lose the first match,” said Murray. “I would have liked to have done better. I didn’t serve well enough today. I would say that was the biggest difference in the match. He was able to dictate a lot of points, especially behind my second serve. That was statistically the part of the match, I mean, that was the part of the match where he had the upper hand. That was the difference.
“Both of us struggled at the beginning of the match… there were a lot of mistakes. Then, he definitely started playing better at the end of the first set and started feeling a bit more comfortable with those conditions.”
Transcription taken from ATPWorldTour.com.