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ATP World Tour Finals 2012: Murray vanquishes Tsonga; Joins Djokovic in semifinals from Group A

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andy_murray_queens3Andy Murray confirmed his qualification for the semi final of the World Tour Finals with a straight set victory over Jo-Wilfred Tsonga. In a match that was a slow burner, Murray breezed through the early stages, before being forced to quell a late fightback from Tsonga to win 6-2, 7-6(3) in an hour and 35 minutes. The Scot looked imperious in the early stages but Tsonga awoke from his slumber to give Murray a real scare before finally succumbing to his third loss of the tourney. Murray joins Djokovic in the semifinal from Group A after the Serb confirmed top spot in Group A having beaten Berdych with an identical scoreline 6-2, 7-6(6). The win meant that Djokovic finished unbeaten in the group stages for the first time in his career. Also qualifying for the semifinal in the doubles were the Indian duo of Bhupathi & Bopanna. The duo progressed at the expense of defending champions Mirnyi & Nestor 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 10-5 to finish second behind Jonathan Marray and Fredrik Nielsen in Group B.

In the marquee match up in the evening at the O2 Arena here in London, Andy Murray sent the home crowd into raptures after an incandescent start against Tsonga. The Scot overwhelmed the Frenchman in the early stages of the match blazing away to a 4-0 lead with a mixture of craft, defense and power. Murray’s excellent defense and movement forced Tsonga to go for more than he was comfortable with and resulted in him leaking errors. The Scot’s superb returning also ensured that Tsonga did not pick up his usual collection of freebies on the serve – infact Tsonga only won 50% of the points on his serve in the first set. Murray eventually served out the first set 6-2, despite a minor hiccup while doing so. The Brit took just over half an hour to take the lead in a dominant opening set display.

Tsonga seemed to be settling into a rhythm on his serve towards the end of the first set and his gameplan undoubtedly was to keep that going in the second and hope for a let down in the Murray service game intensity that he could perhaps capitalise on. Instead, the Frenchman netted a forehand and followed that up with a double fault to gift Murray the early break in the second set and a stranglehold on the match. Murray did not seem to need a second invitation as he consolidated the break with a brisk service game to go up 2-0. The set then progressed with both holding serve till 4-3. Murray then played a brace of loose forehands to go down 0/30 giving Tsonga a glimmer of hope. The duo then played a fantastic rally, that saw both men running from pillar to post when Murray followed a drop shot with a lob that just sailed long to give Tsonga his first break points of the match. The Frenchman capitalised slightly fortuitously mishitting a backhand return for a winner to level the set at 4-4. Tsonga seemed revitalised at this stage and playing with greater freedom even manufactured a set point in the 12th game on Murray’s serve. But Murray staved off that advance, and with a pair of blistering forehands took the set into a tiebreak.

Tsonga began the breaker with an ace and stayed aggressive even as Murray stayed close at 2-2. But this was the decisive turning point of the contest as Murray forced himself in and Tsonga’s backhand pass was found wanting as Murray gained the mini-break to go up 3-2. This triggered a run of 4 consecutive points that gave Murray a 6-2 advantage and consequentially 4 match points. Tsonga saved one but Murray claimed victory with the next rather emphatically with an ace to seal victory 7-3 in the tie-break.

In the afternoon, Novak Djokovic defeated Tomas Berdych in a similar contest after blazing through the opening set in double quick time. The Serb broke twice allowing Berdych just 4 points on his second serve as he took the set 6-2. The second set was closer and Berdych pushed Djokovic all the way in the tie-break before finally faltering. “It was quite close set. I had some chances in the tiebreak. [Tried] to push him for the third set, then maybe get another chance. It just didn't happen.”, was how Berdych described it. Djokovic for his part was satisfied with the result saying, “I just try to fight every point that I have. Guess it works sometimes. Sometimes it doesn't work. I'm glad it worked today.”

Final Scores:

A.Murray d JW.Tsonga 6-2, 7-6(3)

N.Djokovic d T.Berdych 6-2, 7-6(8)

File Photograph Copyright: Queens Club