Roger Federer dropped a set against Japan’s Kei Nishikori but still maintained a perfect 3-0 record in the 2015 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. The Swiss sent Nishikori packing but not before the Japanese demonstrated his fighting spirits in ample measure despite his three sets loss at the O2 Arena in London. After two relatively easier victories and a confirmed semifinal place, Federer needed to bring out his best to keep the Japanese at bay. Federer’s semifinal opponent will be decided on Friday after the match between Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka. In Federer’s group, Djokovic is the other semifinalist after he defeated Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych in straight sets. All the Serb had needed to do; was to take just one set from Berdych for a place in the semifinals but the world no.1 did much better than that. In doubles, Bryan brothers also progressed to the semifinal with a nerve-wrecking match victory over Britain’s Jamie Murray and Australia’s John Peers. In Wednesday’s matches, Rafael Nadal defeated Andy Murray and almost ensured himself a semifinal berth while Wawrinka struck form and outplayed Spain’s David Ferrer. Rohan Bopanna/Florian Mergea lost their match against Italians Simone Bolelli/Fabio Fognini but that didn’t affect their already ensured semifinal spot.
Roger Federer didn’t allow his semifinal entry to dim his enthusiasm, when he played Japan’s Kei Nishikori for his last Round-Robin match. Although the Swiss jumped to an early 3-1 lead, Nishikori fought back to take the next three games and threatened to take a 5-3 over Federer. But the Swiss maestro denied the pleasure to Nishikori and won the first set 7-5 in 48 minutes. Federer looked like winding up, when he opened up a 4-1 lead in the second set but the fighting spirit of the Japanese was evident as he broke Federer twice in seventh and ninth games while also holding his own serve. After taking the second set, the Japanese scared the former world no.1 in the decider by holding three break points with Federer serving at 1-1, 0-40. But Federer managed to dig himself out of the ditch and raced to a 4-1 lead. Yet again, the Japanese wouldn’t give in and brought the score to 4-4. But Federer broke Nishikori, when it mattered most and walked off with a 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 victory. In the semifinal on Saturday, Federer will either play Andy Murray or Stan Wawrinka. In the last singles match on Thursday night, Novak Djokovic ensured that he joined Federer in the semifinals. The Serb fended off the second set challenge from Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych and won his last Round-Robin match 6-3, 7-5.
On Wednesday, Rafael Nadal won his second successive match by outplaying Great Britain’s world no.2 Andy Murray. With a virtuoso performance, the Spaniard looked like he was rolling back the years. The Scot has had a great 2015 season, in which he progressed to world no.2 by displacing Roger Federer but against the rejuvenated Nadal, Murray played an unusually error-prone tennis and paid the price by a straight-sets loss. The last time the two tennis biggies faced each other was at the Mutua Masters Final at Madrid in May 2015, where Murray had defeated Nadal. On Wednesday, Murray began well by breaking Nadal in the opening game. However, the Scot’s upper-hand didn’t last long as Nadal broke right back and thereafter engaged Murray in long rallies, most of which went in the Spaniard’s favor. As Murray’s unforced error-count mounted, Nadal pressed hard and broke again in the 10th game to pocket the first set. It was even better for Nadal in the second set, after he broke early to take a 2-0 lead. By then, Murray had become so wayward that he committed 9 unforced errors in the first three games alone. It was literally a one-way traffic as Nadal broke again to lead 5-1 and, on his serve, closed out the match 6-4, 6-1. If the Spaniard finishes at the top of his Group, he will meet Novak Djokovic in the semifinal on Saturday. Before that on Friday, Nadal will have to take at least one set from compatriot David Ferrer in their last Round-Robin match. On Wednesday, Ferrer suffered his second consecutive defeat against world no.4 Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka, who won at 7-5, 6-2. Ferrer looked good early on, when he took a 3-1 first set lead and prepared to serve for the set at 5-3. But a badly-timed double fault took everything away from the Spaniard. Wawrinka broke him twice after that to take the first set. In the second, Wawrinka broke Ferrer in the first and fifth games to emerge victorious.
After Bopanna/Mergea, Jean Julien-Rojer(Netherlands)/Horia Tecau(Romania) also ensured the semifinal berth in doubles with an 81-minute 6-4, 7-6 victory over the Croatian-Brazilian combo of Ivan Dodig/Marcelo Melo. However, Bopanna/Mergea lost their third Round-Robin match 1-6, 6-1, 5-10 against Italians Simone Bolelli/Fabio Fognini. The loss would not make any difference for the Indo-Romanian combo, who have already qualified for the semifinals.
But Thursday’s major highlight was the doubles match between USA’ Bryan brothers and Britain’s Jamie Murray/Australia’s John Peers. Murray/Peers played brilliantly throughout and held 5 match points against the top-seeds and defending champions in the match tiebreak. The Bryans lost the first set on tiebreak and barely managed to take the second that also went to the tiebreak. Fortunes fluctuated in match tiebreak after Murray/Peers looked like winning. But the Brothers nullified that advantage and on 30th service game, won at 6-7, 7-6, 16-14 to join Bopanna/Mergea in semifinals.
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