Home court, not an advantage

Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, London

Round Robin, Day 1: [CR5] Kei Nishikori (JPN) vs. [CR6] Andy Murray (GBR)

Murray had won all three previous encounters; therefore, he expected to win today given his recent improved form and Nishikori’s less than stellar play in recent big matches. However, he did not count on Nishikori finally elevating his game nor using the drop shot, Murray’s favorite ploy, to defeat him.

The match started off with both players tentatively hitting the ball, Murray was sluggish and Nishikori was tense. Murray seemed to adjust to the situation faster than Nishikori and went up a break in the first set; however, inexplicably he immediately lost his serve the next game and again on serving to stay in the set, belying the impression that he had gained control of his nerves.

It was an erratic match. Nishikori appeared to have taken control of the match after winning the first set and going up an immediate break on Murray’s first service game in the second set; yet, there was always the sense that if Murray could control his nerves, he could get back in the match.  He did, breaking back in the seventh game to get back on serve.  However, Murray’s confidence was precarious and once again on serving to stay in the set/match, he got broken. Murray succumbed to his nerves, missing every first serve in the last game. Nishikori handled the tension of the occasion much better this time and broke Murray to win the match 6-4, 6-4.  Nishikori accomplished two firsts today: first victory against Murray and his first ATP Tour Finals round robin victory.

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