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Murray Poised To Pass Federer As World No. 3

Shanghai, China

Murray© AFP/Getty ImagesMurray broke Nishikori five times in Saturday's semi-final victory in Shanghai.

Defending champion Andy Murray charged back into the Shanghai Rolex Masters final on Saturday, dismissing Japan’s Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-0 in just 56 minutes. Should he defeat Spaniard David Ferrer in Sunday's final, Murray will move ahead of Roger Federer as the World No. 3. "It would be nice to finish the year off No. 3 if I can because that would be the highest ranking I finished at," said Murray. "It's not the ultimate goal, but it's a step in the right direction... I can't really finish as the No. 2 or 1. So it's just a goal I had for the end of the month."

Federer has been ranked inside the Top 3 since July 7, 2003, after he moved up to third in the South African Airways ATP Rankings following his first Grand Slam title triumph at Wimbledon. The last time he was ranked below No. 3 was on June 23, 2003.

Murray's victory against Nishikori marked his 24th win in his past 25 matches. "I served well. Got a lot of free points on my serve," Murray said.

"I didn't give him any chances. If you can do that, then you can make life easy for yourself. And because the courts and the balls are very fast here, if you serve well, you're going to give yourself opportunities because you can definitely put pressure on guys by getting through a few quick service games."

After each player held to begin the match, Murray quickly took command of the encounter, breaking Nishikori in the third game of the first set. He was dominant on serve, winning all but one of his 17 service points in the set. The Scot broke Nishikori again in the ninth game to take a one set lead.

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Murray ran away with the second set, winning 68 percent of his return points to break Nishikori three times, while holding comfortably to wrap up the pair’s first meeting. He did not face a break point en route to his second final appearance in Shanghai.

The fourth-ranked Murray is bidding to clinch an Asian title hat-trick, having triumphed at the PTT Thailand Open (d. Young) and knocking off Rafael Nadal in last week’s Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships final in Tokyo. Murray lifted his seventh ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown in Cincinnati (d. Djokovic) and also won the AEGON Championships in June (d. Tsonga).

The second-seeded Murray will square off against Ferrer in Sunday’s title match, after the third seed rallied to beat countryman Feliciano Lopez 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-3. Murray holds a 4-3 edge in their head-to-head series, and has claimed all four of their hard court meetings.

Nishikori was enjoying his best result at a Masters 1000 event and with his run this week, will become the highest ranked Japanese player in ATP World Tour history. The 21 year old is set to break Shuzo Matsuoka's record when the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings are published Monday. "It's a big surprise for me. I was thinking if I can get [in the] Top 30 or Top 40 this year, that was my goal," said Nishikori. "If I can get to the Top 32 to finish this year, it would be good for next Grand Slam."

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