Murray beats Raonic in straights to keep Group B up for grabs

Andy Murray rebounded from an opening loss and extended Milos Raonic’s World Tour Finals woes as the Scot picked up a 6-3, 7-5 victory on Tuesday night. Murray converted three of five break points against his big-serving opponent to get the job done in one hour and 31 minutes.

Facing a must-win situation following his Sunday loss to Nishikori and Nishikori’s setback at the hands of Roger Federer, Murray handled the pressure to get off to a fast start. The crowd favorite failed to capitalize on two second-serve return opportunities on break points in the fourth game, but he continued to test Raonic’s serve. Murray eventually broke through for a 4-2 advantage when his opponent sprayed a forehand on break point.

Although Murray ultimately managed to seal the deal in straight sets, he consistently looked less comfortable playing from ahead than when the two competitors were on level terms. The world No. 6 squandered set points in the opener at 40-15 and 40-30 in the ninth game before coming up with two first serves to wrap it up.

A competitive second set saw Raonic drop serve from 40-0 up at 1-1. London’s No. 7 seed double-faulted at deuce then committed one of his 23 forehand errors. Murray, though, promptly gave the break right back. At both 2-3 and 3-4 he battled back from 0-30 deficits to hold with four points in succession.

Not unlike in his Sunday loss to Federer, Raonic rued multiple missed second-set chances before collapsing late. The world No. 8 lost a tiebreaker to Federer 7-0 and this time could not play his way into one. Murray broke at 5-5 by forcing Raonic to hit a low backhand volley and he served out the proceedings with little trouble.

“Obviously for me today, I was going in knowing that if I lost the match I was out,” Murray said. “(It) kind of didn’t really feel like a round-robin anymore. It was more like a knock-out…. I hit the ball a lot cleaner than I did on Sunday from the beginning of the match.”
Murray Raonic
Raonic was doomed by 52 percent serving. He fired 25 winners to Murray’s 10, but he made 33 errors and delivered just four aces.

“The serve sort of affects everything else,” the Wimbledon semifinalist lamented. “(I) haven’t served well. I’ve been too passive on the court. I’ve been trying to beat the two guys playing their tennis and that’s not going to work for me.”

That means Raonic will have to serve better–much better–if he wants to beat Nishikori in straight sets on Thursday. If he does not, he is eliminated and Federer is guaranteed a place in the last four even before he takes the court against Murray.

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