ATP World Tour Finals 2012: Murray Marches Into Last Four
By Nick Howson | November 10, 2012 8:46 AM EST
Andy Murray qualified for the ATP World Tour Finals last four after overcoming a spirited Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets at the O2 Arena in London.
Needing just a set to reach the semi-final, Murray secured a double-break advantage in the opening set in next to no-time, taking the first 6-2 and simultaneously knocking Tsonga out of the competition
The second set saw the gold medalist from London 2012 Murray snatch an early break but despite being down and out Tsonga staged a determined fight back, breaking back and forcing a set point.
But Murray survived and then took the tiebreak 7-3 in typically decisive fashion to reach the knock-out round for just the third time in five years.
While Tsonga knew only a straight sets victory would do in his attempts to qualify for the semi-final, Murray required just one of the opening two sets to reach the knock-out phase after successive round-robin exits in 2010 and 2011.
And British No.1's start suggested he was in no mood to leave his passage to chance, breaking in the very first game as first a slice backhand exchange saw Tsonga blink first before the Frenchman found the net with a forehand.
After holding serve comfortably, Murray manufactured two more break point chances, the first of which he duly converted to give himself the required cushion in the opening set.
As Tsonga was taking time to find his range with his forehand, Murray appeared at home amid the glitz in Greenwich and soon stormed into a 5-1 lead, before serving out the set in comfortable style, but not before Tsonga produced a moment of brilliance to almost find a foothold.
Murray's serve at 40-15 was wide, but the No.8 seed replied with the devilish backhand to send the crowd into raptures.
The shot only worked to delay the inevitable as the Olympic champion took his first set point as Tsonga produced the 17th error of a disastrous first set to seal his fate in his third World Tour Finals, and help book Murray's place in the last four.
The former Australian Open finalist began the second set like he started the first, failing to hand onto his serve with a lazy double fault to compound his evening.
A clearly disheartened Tsonga was powerless to deal with the in-form Murray, who had banished the disappointment from his defeat to Novak Djokovic on Wednesday to reproduce some of the tennis which saw him claim his maiden grand slam title at the US Open.
A brilliant backhand overhead gave Muray the initiative in the sixth game, but as Tsonga came to the net looking for a break-point chance, the Scot produced a backhand drop which bamboozled the world No.8.
But from nowhere, Murray's next service game yielded three break point chances for Tsonga, after the pair produced a sterling rally which ended when the World No.3's chip evaded the baseline. The first of three break points saw Tsonga unleashed a forehand return from Murray's serve, which flew beyond the Brit.
The break sparked Tsonga into life, as he took the lead in the set for the first time with a game full of the sort of energy, which had been absent from his campaign thus far in the English capital.
Even when Murray did create an opening, as a flick down the line forged two break points, Tsonga had all the answers as two dominating serves kept the match alive.
And he was almost rewarded for his revival in the second set as he faced a set point in the 12th game, but found the tramlines as Murray hung on for a tiebreak.
Then Tsonga's opportunity to level the match seemed a distant memory when faced with four match points, the second of which Murray took with an ace to reach the semi-final on Sunday and continue his successful relationship with the city of London in 2012.
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