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Murray keeps semis bid alive

Murray keeps semis bid alive
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Andy Murray kept alive his bid to reach the semifinal of the ATP Tour Finals with a crucial 6-3, 7-5 victory in his shoot-out with Milos Raonic on Tuesday. Murray knew he would have been eliminated from the prestigious season-ending event at London’s O2 Arena if he lost to Canada’s Raonic, but the world number six produced a strong performance to secure his first Group B win and remain in the hunt for a last four berth.

The former Wimbledon champion now has to beat six-time winner Roger Federer in his final group match on Thursday to qualify, while Raonic, having lost both matches, is almost certain to be knocked out.

‘On Sunday, there wasn’t much magic. On Wednesday I came up with some good shots in the right
moments. Milos didn’t serve as well as he can and that helped. It’s a nice match against Roger to look forward to. It’ll be a great atmosphere again,’ Murray said after defeating Raonic.

Murray’s victory also meant Federer is not 100 per cent certain to make the semis despite winning both his group matches, including a 6-3, 6-2 stroll against Japan’s Kei Nishikori earlier on Tuesday. After playing for six consecutive weeks in a successful bid to qualify for the Finals after briefly falling out of the top 10, Murray chalked up titles in Shenzhen, Vienna and Valencia to salvage his ranking.
Yet he looked totally devoid of inspiration and energy in his lacklustre loss against Nishikori on Sunday. Murray knew he had to improve dramatically against Raonic, who had won three of their four previous meetings.

Raonic had hit 1,103 aces this year and he tried to send a statement of intent with a venomous 138mph ace in his first service game. Murray wasn’t intimidated by the early barrage and carried the fight back to the world number eight, earning two break points in the fourth game.

Although Raonic got out of trouble on that occasion, he wasn’t landing enough first serves in to keep Murray on the back foot and the Scot, taking advantage of a series of forehand errors from his opponent, eventually broke for a 4-2 lead. That proved decisive as Murray closed out the first set and he kept up the pressure in the second.

Raonic seemed to be cruising at 40-0 in the third game, but the Canadian’s double-fault gifted Murray a break point which he converted with a superb crosscourt return. Murray’s concentration wavered then and he allowed Raonic to break back with a sloppy service game. But he was still reading Raonic’s serve well and landed the knockout blow with a break in 11th game before serving out the win.
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