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Murray Tops Berdych To Open Campaign

London, England

Murray© Getty ImagesAndy Murray is making his fifth straight appearance at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

Andy Murray opened his fifth straight appearance at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals with a victory on Monday, when the third seed defeated fifth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in two hours and 17 minutes.

Murray, who will finish year-end No. 3 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings, improved to a 55-14 match record on the season after he hit 36 winners and seven aces past Berdych in the pair’s eighth meeting (4-4 overall).

“The noise and the atmosphere at the beginning of the match was great,” said Murray. “I thought I started the match well. I just didn't quite take my chances early on. Both of us I thought served pretty well [and] weren't losing too many points on our first serve. It can hinge on a couple points here or there. [Getting the break for a 3-1 lead] gave me the advantage in the second set. But the third set was tight as well.” 

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Berdych broke Murray to 30 to take a 4-2 lead and converted his second set point opportunity to silence the majority of the support at The O2 in London. The 27 year old won 21 of his 24 first service points and hit 12 winners, while Murray failed to convert any of his seven break point chances.

At the start of the second set, Murray found himself in trouble at 1-1, 15/40, but survived three break points and grew in confidence to break for a 3-1 lead, when he clinched his fourth chance. Berdych continued in an aggressive manner, attempting to keep the rallies short, but failed to win a tense seventh game, as Murray gained a mental advantage in the match.

Afterwards, Berdych admitted, “I think it was a very, very good and solid match, from both of us. Unfortunately, small details just decided it today. I think the biggest moment was in the second set, 1-1, when I had [three] breakpoints.”

Murray absorbed the pressure and took a 2-1 lead in the decider, when Berdych overcooked a crosscourt forehand approach. Murray went onto drop just three points in his next four service games to begin his Group A campaign as the season-ending championships.

The 25-year-old Scot is his hunting for a fourth title of the year, which includes the London 2012 Olympics gold medal (d. Federer), US Open (d. Djokovic) and Brisbane International (d. Dolgopolov). He has lost in the 2008 and 2010 semi-finals at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

Berdych, who committed 27 unforced errors, one more than Murray, won 55 per cent of his service points and seven aces. He is the first Czech player to finish in the Top 10 at least three years in a row since Ivan Lendl, Murray’s coach, who did so for 13 straight years between 1980 and 1992. 

When asked what he thought about the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, Murray said, "I think the reason why it's special to a lot of the players, [is that] not everybody can qualify for it. I'm sure a lot of the players would want to play here, but there's only eight spots. It's a whole year's work getting here.

"It's a beautiful stadium to play in. It's a different atmosphere to most of the tournaments we're at. We take the boat to the courts, which we don't do anywhere else. We have our own locker rooms. It's a nice tournament. They put on a great event."

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