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Sport – Federer floors Murray to seal no.1 spot

LONDON: Roger Federer came alive once again after losing the first set, rallying to beat Andy Murray 3-6, 6-3, 6-1

Federer dominated Murray in the final two sets, finally controlling play from his serve and also getting his forehand on target. Murray, meanwhile, started to struggle to win points when he wasn’t serving.

Federer, who has two wins from two matches in Group A and is favored to reach the semifinals at the season-ending tournament, still has to play Juan Martin del Potro in the round-robin stage. Del Potro beat Federer in the U.S. Open final.

Earlier, Del Potro held on to beat Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (1), giving him a chance to reach the semifinals at the O2 Arena.

Because of Federer’s win, he cannot be overtaken by second-ranked Rafael Nadal, who lost to Robin Soderling on Monday in his first Group B match.

Pete Sampras and Jimmy Connors are the only other players to finish the year as the top-ranked player at least five times since the rankings started in 1973. Sampras, whose record of 14 Grand Slam titles Federer broke this year at Wimbledon, has the most with six.

Federer began the night by breaking Murray’s serve, but it was more because of the Briton’s errors than Federer’s stellar play. The lead didn’t last, however, because Murray broke right back, and then started to play the kind of tennis that earned him six wins over Federer in their previous nine meetings.

Murray then broke again for a 4-2 lead, and saved a pair of break points in the next game before eventually winning the first set.

In the second, Federer won his first three service games at love, and he then broke Murray to take a 4-2 lead.

Along with his improving serve, Federer’s forehand was also starting to get back to normal. In the second set alone, Federer managed 10 of his 16 forehand winners — after only two in the first set.

In the early match, Del Potro wasted two match points in the third set and then was broken while serving for the win.

“I served much better than the other match,” said Del Potro, who lost to Murray in his opening Group A match. “I was very focused in the important moments, especially in the tiebreak, and I take my opportunities.”

The fifth-ranked Argentine most likely will have to beat four-time champion Federer on Thursday to reach the semifinals. Verdasco, with two losses, will face Murray in his next match.

Del Potro and Verdasco traded powerful forehands and accurate backhands. But the U.S. Open champion had the advantage through much of the third set and earned his second break of the match in the sixth game — with the help of instant replay.

Verdasco sent a shot toward the baseline, and Del Potro played it cleanly and sent it back over the net. But he also immediately raised his arm to challenge the call, believing it was long. He was right, and the reversal gave him a 4-2 lead.

“It’s not enough to play good tennis to beat these guys,” Verdasco said. “You need to play good tennis and also play very good in the very important moments.”

In Group B, Novak Djokovic and Soderling won their opening matches and will play each other Wednesday. Nadal will face Nikolay Davydenko.

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November 25, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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