Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Murray sets up final with comeback king Ferrer

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SHANGHAI:In-form Andy Murray is just one win away from a third straight title after crushing Japan’s Kei Nishikori to seal a place in the Shanghai Masters final where he will face comeback king David Ferrer.

The British second seed and defending champion was overwhelming favourite going into the clash Saturday against 47th-ranked Nishikori and showed his superior class, coasting to a 6-3, 6-0 win under lights at the Qi Zhong stadium.

Earlier, Ferrer battled back from a set down for the third consecutive match to beat Feliciano Lopez 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-3 in an all-Spanish semi-final.

Ferrer, who came into the match with a 1-6 losing record in hard court head-to-heads against 28th-ranked Lopez, said he had refocused after losing the opening set.

“When I lost the first set, I tried to forget the tiebreak and I tried to focus again. I played better in the second and the third. I served better,” Ferrer said.

World number four Murray, who will replace Roger Federer as number three if he wins Sunday’s final, broke twice in the first set, winning 100 percent of points on his first serve.

Kei Nishikori returns a shot against Andy Murray in their semi-final match in the Shanghai Rolex Masters today

In the second set the 24-year-old Briton, coming into the tie on a 13-match winning streak, including titles in Bangkok and Tokyo, broke in the second game and demolished his opponent.

Murray said that leapfrogging Federer to reach number three in the rankings would be a step in the right direction but was not his ultimate goal.

It would mean the Swiss great would slump to his lowest ranking in more than eight years.

Federer is missing from Shanghai and will therefore garner no points, at the same time losing all his 600 points earned for finishing as runner-up last year in the 12-month rolling rankings.

Murray on the other hand would earn 1,000 points should he defend his Shanghai Masters crown on Sunday, meaning he would leapfrog Federer into third place in Monday’s new weekly rankings.

“It would be nice to finish the year off as number three if I can because that would be the highest ranking I finished at. It’s not the ultimate goal, but it’s a step in the right direction.”

The Scot has been ranked as high as number two but his highest year-end ranking is number four. (Agencies)

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