Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori face off on Wednesday afternoon with the winner confirming their progress from the group stage at the World Tour Finals. Both players had straight forward victories in their openers, winning comfortably in straight sets.
Murray showed no signs of letting up and ending his impressive winning streak against Marin Cilic, controlling the match from start to finish against the Croatian in the 6-3 6-2 victory breaking serve 4 times in total.
The pressure of living up to his no.1 ranking didn’t really affect Murray on Monday although he admits that is part due to the format of the year ending event. “I think it’s one of the things, you know, that can be tricky in a group stage, because you have that sort of feeling a little bit like you can afford lose a match, which is never really the case.” Murray said.
There’s a good chance Murray could go 2-1 and still top his group but the fierce battle for no.1 should ensure that he doesn’t let up in either of his final two matches.
He should be wary of the way Nishikori took apart Stanislas Wawrinka in his Monday opener. Despite serving 47%, Nishikori proved to be unbreakable with the Swiss not even getting a break point and winning just 4 points on first serve overall.
It was a professional performance from the Japanese star against an opponent far from his best. “I see that he wasn’t playing his best, and he was missing. A lot of unforced errors. I see a lot of opportunity today, so I try to be aggressive.” Nishikori said on Mondays win.
Murray is 7-2 against Nishikori this year including 2-1 in 2016 although the one loss at the US Open is one of the very few that he has suffered in the latter half of the season. Losing from 2-1 up in the quarter finals, it felt like Murray’s chances of making No. 1 would remain a pipe dream without another 2000 point haul that winning a slam gives you but two months later that has proven not to be the case.
Prediction: Andy Murray in straight sets