Exit from ATP World Tour Finals caps year that began with great promise for former no1.
|Net loss: Verdasco slumps after losing a point [AFP]|
Britain’s Andy Murray laboured to a third set tie-break victory over Spain’s Fernando Verdasco in their final Group A game at the World Tour Finals.
Murray won 6-4, 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/3) in three hours at London’s O2 Arena, eliminating the Spaniard from the competition but leaving his own chances of reaching the semi-finals in the balance.
He converted just one of 13 break points all match as Verdasco dug in, knowing defeat meant certain elimination.
Murray must wait for the result of group leader Roger Federer’s match against Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro later on Thursday to see whether he has made the last four of the season-ending tournament of the world’s top eight players.
The Scot, 22, could have gone straight into the semi-finals if he won in two sets.
The first two games went to deuce, with the server eventually triumphing.
Murray won his third and fourth service games to love as he began to impose himself and eventually earned a break point at 4-4.
Though he was on the back foot, Murray kept himself in the point, scampering around and lofting the ball up in the air to gain time.
He eventually won it by slicing back a return, which Verdasco dumped into the net.
Serving for the game, Murray went 0-30 down but pulled it back and aced for set point. However, he hit a return into the net and eventually converted an advantage on the third deuce, winning it when Verdasco hit the net.
|It is rarely all sweetness and light for Andy Murray [AFP]|
Despite holding the upper hand for almost two hours, Murray looked anything but pleased with his shot selections as he berated himself, his wrist, his racket, the ball and the chair following the end of one uneventful game.
The Spaniard then riled the fourth seed further as he gatecrashed the British party by stealing the second set 7-4 in the tiebreak, thanks to a double fault from the misfiring Murray.
Verdasco, no stranger to marathon battles as he proved during his five-hour semi-final against compatriot Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open, fought valiantly in the third set but in the end paid the price for leaking 64 unforced errors.
As the clock struck the three-hour mark, he hit a tired forehand into the tramlines to hand Murray the tiebreak 7-3 and a victory that brought an almighty roar of relief from the home crowd.
Verdasco’s defeat ended a miserable outing for Spain at the tournament.
The country was the only nation to field two representatives in the elite eight-man line-up but both Verdasco and Nadal, who exited from Group B, failed to win any of their matches.