Murray eases into London semis
Andy Murray moved safely through to the semi-finals of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London with victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
The Scot knew prior to his final group match that one set would be good enough after Novak Djokovic made it three victories out of three against Tomas Berdych.
And he took any potential drama out of the situation by winning the opening set, which in turn ended Tsonga's hopes of progression, before going on to clinch a 6-2 7-6 (7/3) victory in an hour and 36 minutes. It is the second time the 25-year-old has reached the last four at the O2 and the third time at the tournament as a whole.
Murray made the semi-finals in his first appearance at the Tour Finals in 2008 in Shanghai, losing to Nikolay Davydenko, while two years ago he came out on the wrong end of an epic clash with Rafael Nadal. This time he is likely to have to defeat Roger Federer and Djokovic if he wants to end his season with a trophy, although his last-four opponent will not be confirmed until the final Group B matches.
Murray said: "It's quite a tough scenario when you know you need to win one set. I got off to a good start so that helped, and at the end of the second set there were some good rallies so that was nice. Ivan (Lendl, Murray's coach) said to me before the match, 'Just forget you only need to win one set,' so then I was thinking about it. It is hard."
Murray has a great record against Tsonga, winning six of their previous seven meetings and five in a row, including in the Wimbledon semi-finals this summer. The Scot quickly set about making it six in a row, using his vicious slice to break in the opening game, and it was not until four games later that Tsonga finally got on the board.
The seventh seed is very popular in the UK but the cheer that greeted his service hold was largely because the crowd desperately wanted to see a good match. Tsonga was offering no real threat on the Murray serve, though, and he wrapped up the set in 33 minutes thanks to a wild return from his opponent.
Both men seemed to want to get the match over with quickly, and Tsonga donated another break to Murray in the opening game of the second set with a double fault.
The match burst into life in the eighth game with a brilliant rally that eventually ended with a Murray lob dropping just long, handing Tsonga his first break points of the match, and he took the first with a slightly mis-hit return that landed on the line.
Murray had chances to break again for 6-5 but could not take them, and in the next game it was Tsonga who had set point but he fired wide. And there were no second chances in the tie-break, Murray winning four points in a row from 2-2 and clinching victory on his second match point with an ace.
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