London, England (SportsNetwork.com) – U.S. Open runner-up Kei Nishikori
was a three-set round-robin winner Thursday at the season-ending ATP World
The fourth seed from Japan came from behind to best first alternate David
Ferrer, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, at The O2.
This marked the first time in nine matches this week that a bout did not end
in straight sets.
The 24-year-old Nishikori tallied 27 more winners (41-14) than Ferrer,
including a lopsided 15-0 advantage in the third set. The Japanese star moved
on despite misfiring with 37 unforced errors, but broke Ferrer’s serve five
times, while the gritty 32-year-old Spaniard settled for two breaks in defeat.
Ferrer was forced into action on Day 5 when Canadian slugger Milos Raonic
withdrew from the exclusive eight-player event due to a quad injury.
The seventh-seeded Raonic had dropped his first two matches in the four-
player Group B in straight sets.
“As badly as I wanted to play, you’ve got to be at the top of your game here
and I couldn’t be close to that today,” said Raonic. “Wouldn’t have been fair
to the fans if I had played a mediocre match or had to stop.”
Thursday’s night-session Group B match will pit second-seeded former world No.
1 great Roger Federer against fifth-seeded British favorite Andy Murray.
The 17-time Grand Slam king Federer and two-time major titlist Murray have
split 22 career matchups, but Federer is 2-0 this year and 3-0 versus Murray
all-time at the ATP Finals.
The four-player Group B boasts the Wimbledon runner-up Federer (2-0),
Nishikori (2-1), Murray (1-1) and Raonic (0-2). Federer has already qualified
for Saturday’s semifinals, while Murray and Nishikori are vying for the other
final-four berth out of the group. Murray has to beat Federer in straight sets
to advance, otherwise Nishikori will land in the semis.
Federer, who is making a record 13th consecutive appearance at this
event and still has an outside chance of capturing the year-end No. 1
ranking, holds the record for the most titles at this prestigious tournament
In qualifying for his 12th career Tour Finals semifinal, he tied a record
set by Ivan Lendl, and the 33-year-old Swiss icon is the oldest player to
advance to the last four at this event since Andre Agassi finished as a
runner-up in 2003.
Round-robin action will wrap up on Friday when world No. 1 Wimbledon champ
Novak Djokovic takes on sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych and third-seeded Australian
Open winner Stan Wawrinka battles eighth-seeded U.S. Open titlist Marin Cilic.
The two-time reigning and three-time overall Tour Finals champion Djokovic
beat Rafael Nadal in last year’s final here in London and the super Serb has
won his last 29 indoor matches.
Djokovic is 2-0 in the four-player Group A, which also features Wawrinka
(1-1), Berdych (1-1) and Cilic (0-2).
The 27-year-old Djokovic is one win away from clinching the year-end No. 1
ranking for the third time in four years.