Andy Murray, world number six, has already encountered Japan’s number one seed Kei Nishikori and Canadian maestro Milos Raonic in his opening fixtures of the ATP world tour finals, hosted for the fifth successive year at the 17,500 seated O2 arena in London.
Murray exhibited glimpses of purpose in his match with Nishikori. The Briton recovered from a 4-1 deficit to level the score to 4-4 in the first set. The world number 5 immediately regained control to make it 6-4. During the second set, Nishikori, 24, reeled off three games in a row through some skilful baseline rallies. Murray’s exceptional recovery of serve in the forth game of nine minutes demonstrated huge tenacity. Nishikori soon found himself with two match points and a deserved triumph over his fellow professional.
Murray played Canada’s promising young talent Milos Raonic, 23, on Tuesday night in his second round-robin fixture. Murray treated fans to an improved performance that enthused the crowd to help support him, ultimately leading to a straight-sets victory for the 27 year old, winning 6-3 7-5.
However, home support has undoubtedly boosted his aims of getting a title, in a self proclaimed ‘challenging season’. Murray aims to match with a fellow fan favourite, Roger Federer. A win aims to see Murray safely into the knock out stage of this years ATP world tour finals.
However reflecting on his exceptional streak leading up to the London championship (Murray has won 24 of his last 28 games), questions are likely to be answered after Murray’s ATP World Tour Finals matches continue to be played.
After enhancing his fitness levels leading up the US Open, a spirited last-eight finish may have stirred something in Murray, where the Scotsman played himself back into a rhythm of success. Titles in Valencia, Vienna and Shenzhen were secured in a six-week period in a self-proclaimed “lengthy schedule”. Murray reflected on this time, admitting it had “been a long few weeks, however very beneficial”.
Twice Murray overcame five match points of Tommy Robredo to win ATP finals in Valencia in recent weeks. The Wimbledon champion reflected on his latest form, revealing that he felt “much better” about himself and aims to see next year to be a “good one”.
Murray revealed that his slight dent in form is perhaps a repercussion from a back impediment experienced in September. Murray has bounced back, explaining that he feels “better than before”. The modern game is often celebrated for it’s increased athleticism, particularly amongst the top-flight players, with Rafael Nadal possibly the leading talisman of this advancement. The repetitive and powerful nature of modern groundstrokes and serves occasionally postpones athletes’ playing careers through challenging physical conditions.
Nevertheless, Murray has ‘come back well after surgery’ after convalescing from an uncharacteristic season. Upon reflection, Murray was able to reassess his career and initiate ‘gradual steps’ for the ensuing seasons. The British number one’s revitalised physical capability aims to be tested during his subsequent with the world number two seed Roger Federer on Thursday.
Since springing back to the tour, Murray has acknowledged a ‘gain of a lot of confidence’ in his body. Perhaps this outcome is the effect of the physical emphasis injected into Murray’s training regime. Additionally, the psychological power that Murray potentially wields may benefit from being sharpened if a productive result is to be acquired next game with Federer and beyond in the ATP world tour finals.
What further attributes does Murray require in order to reclaim his top-four status?