After the conclusion of Friday’s matches at BNP Paribas Masters in Paris, all eight singles players for Barclays ATP World Tour Finals have finally emerged. When the Japanese sensation Kei Nishikori beat David Ferrer in the quarterfinals, he also ensured that apart from him, Milos Raonic would also take one berth at O2 in London. The other two spots were taken by Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych. Both Nishikori and Raonic made history; the Japanese became the first Asian player to qualify for the season finale just as Raonic emerged as the first Canadian ever. The star-studded tournament threw up interesting results yesterday. Roger Federer lost the quarterfinal match to Raonic in two tough sets; Nishikori handed a three-set defeat to the fighting Ferrer; Berdych reached the semifinals to ensure his place in London and Djokovic was unstoppable as he defeated Andy Murray. They announced it during the US open this year and now they are showing their colors. Yes; the youngsters are on a threshold of taking the tennis world by a storm. There are three of them in this year’s ATP Tour Finals; Marin Cilic, Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic. These young guns have been dishing out super performances against their more celebrated opponents in recent times. Marin Cilic was the first to seal his London berth after winning the Kremlin Cup in Moscow two weeks ago.
Canadian Milos Raonic was grateful to Kei Nishikori, who ensured the London berth for both of them by beating David Ferrer of Spain in a hard-fought quarterfinal. During a career-best 2014 campaign, Nishikori had a 52-11 match record and lifted four ATP World Tour trophies at US National Indoor Tournament at Memphis, Barcelona Open, Malaysian Open and the Japan Open. Going into the clash with the Spaniard, Nishikori knew about the tough battle ahead. The Japanese broke early in the first set but couldn’t capitalize on the advantage as Ferrer broke twice immediately and led 5-2. Ferrer kept the momentum and took the set 6-3. Nishikori raised his game in the second set and broke Ferrer’s second service game. This time the Japanese fought hard despite the unyielding Ferrer as the set went to the tie break. Ferrer took a 4-0 lead and looked like wrapping up the match but the Japanese staged an amazing comeback and took the second set 7-6. The third set was again the story of exchanging breaks but in the ninth game, when Nishikori broke again, he had set himself on the road to victory. As the Japanese served in the decisive service game, he didn’t yield a single point and entered the semifinal with a 3-6, 7-6, 6-4 win over the Spaniard.
Earlier Milos Raonic had caused the biggest upset of the tournament by beating world no.2 Roger Federer. Raonic, who had never beaten Federer earlier, served with power and precision and allowed no room to the great Swiss. By saving a break point in the first set, Federer only managed a tie break but Raonic’s booming serve dominated the tie-break, which he won 7-5. In all, the Canadian fired 21 aces but Federer still forced him to save a break point at 4-5, 30/40 in the second set. The Canadian prevailed by breaking Federer decisively in the next game and take the match 7-6, 7-5 in 93 minutes.
In another quarterfinal game on Friday, Czech veteran Tomas Berdych defeated South African Kevin Anderson 6-7, 6-4, 6-4. The victory allowed Berdych to secure the London berth for the fifth year in succession. The 2005 Paris Master champion bounced back after losing the first set on tie break and took the next two sets 6-4, 6-4 to reach the semifinals. Both players broke each other once in the first set but Anderson prevailed 7-4 in the tie-break. In the second set, Berdych broke Anderson in the first game and then held his serve to take the set easily. The Czech kept the momentum and maintained his winning record against the South African by also wrapping up the decider with the same margin.
Novak Djokovic continued his great form in 2014 and in the fourth quarterfinal at Paris, he defeated no.8 seed Andy Murray 7-5, 6-2. The Serb is a defending champion here and also won in 2009. Against Murray, he produced 12 winners and despite the Scot’s big resistance in the first set, he came through 7-5 after clinching a late service break. In the second set, Murray broke early and led the Serb but the lead didn’t last long as Djokovic broke back immediately and then reeled off five straight games to seal the match in an hour and 41 minutes. On Saturday, Djokovic’s semifinal opponent will be Nishikori while Berdych and Raonic will clash in the other semifinal.
The doubles line-up for Barclays Season Finale has also been decided. The pairs who will vie for supremacy at London’s ATP World Tour Finals are; Bob/Mike Bryan; Daniel Nestor/Nenad Zimonjic; Alexander Peya/Bruno Soares; Julien Benneteau/Edouard Roger-Vasselin; Jean-Julien Rojer/Horia Tecau; Marcel Granollers/Marc Lopez; Ivan Dodig/Marcelo Melo and Lukasz Kubot/Robert Lindstedt.