Federer too strong for Murray
Andy Murray's season ended in defeat by Roger Federer in the semi-finals of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London on Sunday night.
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The US Open champion made a great start at the O2 Arena but Federer clawed his way back into the match and, after taking the first set on a tie-break, raced away with the second to win 7-6 (7/5) 6-2.
Federer now goes through to Monday night's final against world number one Novak Djokovic, who beat Juan Martin Del Potro earlier on Sunday, where he will bid for a third successive title at the end-of-the-season tournament.
The atmosphere was electric throughout, and Federer said: "It was a special match. You can't tire of nights like this. That is why I keep practising in front of no people, it inspires you to keep working hard." This was the third big meeting of the year for the pair in London after the finals of Wimbledon and the Olympics, where Murray turned his Centre Court tears into gold.
Their last match came in Shanghai last month, Murray again the victor, and he was looking to make it six successive sets won against the world number two.
Federer lost for the first time in three years here against Juan Martin Del Potro on Saturday and made an awful start on this occasion, his forehand misfiring as he lost his opening service game.
It was the third match in a row Murray had broken in the opening game following his group encounters against Djokovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
But Federer retrieved the break in the eighth game as Murray, who was wearing a special Remembrance Day shirt with a poppy on the sleeve, netted a forehand.
Suddenly it was the Scot under pressure serving to stay in the set but he held firm to set up a tie-break.
Murray had the early advantage but again Federer hit back and created two set points by winning a stunning rally, prompting his opponent to smack his racquet on the court. Murray saved one but not a second.
Murray had come back to beat Federer from a set down four times before but not for almost four years, and he was in even deeper trouble when, from 40-0 up, he was broken to trail 2-1 in the second set.
The 25-year-old looked a little disconsolate, and he was failing to make an impression on the Federer serve as the second seed closed in on place in the final.
It was all but game over for Murray when the champion broke once more with a searing cross-court backhand to make it 5-2 and leave himself serving for the match.
And that proved to be no problem, Federer sealing victory with a forehand down the line and leaping into the air in delight.
Murray was far from downcast after defeat and said: "It was an incredibly positive year. I would have loved to finish the year on a win, of course. I'm sure Roger and Novak both will tomorrow.
"But I wouldn't say whoever wins or loses the match tomorrow will look back on the year with huge disappointment. I think both of them have played really well this whole year and I have to try to view it the same.
"It's been the best year of my career by a mile. So why I would look back on that negatively now would be silly because I've achieved things I've never achieved before."
Earlier Djokovic had looked in trouble when he went a break down in the second set having lost the opener but Del Potro won only three of the last 14 games as the world number one triumphed 4-6 6-3 6-2.
It is the first time the 2008 champion has reached the final since the tournament moved to the O2 Arena three years ago.
Djokovic was the only unbeaten player in the group stages and had had a day's rest, and he looked every inch the best player in the world in the early stages.
Del Potro was having to find some special shots just to stay on level terms, notably a forehand creamed down the line to save a break point in the second game.
Djokovic went into the match holding a 6-2 advantage over his opponent but Del Potro could look back on a victory in London earlier this summer that won him an Olympic bronze medal.
The Argentinian had joked that the semi-finals featured three big names and one big guy, but it was the big guy who was beginning to get on top in this one.
The sheer power of 6ft 6in Del Potro was pushing Djokovic to overhit and, although he saved a break point in the seventh game, he faced two more a couple of games later and this time Del Potro struck.
The 24-year-old then served out the set to love, and he kept the momentum going at the start of the second set.
Djokovic saved three break points in the opening game but he was under pressure all the time and he had no answer to another monstrous forehand from Del Potro in the third game, the Argentinian raising his fists in the air as he broke for 2-1.
It seemed to be getting away from Djokovic but he roused himself, taking his fourth chance to hit back immediately when Del Potro for once missed a forehand down the line.
And the Argentinian won only one more game in the set as Djokovic levelled up, breaking for the second time at 4-3.
The effort of the first set seemed to have taken a lot out of Del Potro and he looked distinctly weary as he was broken once more in the third game of the decider.
In contrast, Djokovic had a spring in his step again and the end was a swift in coming, the top seed clinching victory in two hours and 12 minutes.
The 25-year-old is now looking to end his season with a bang, saying: "It's my first final here in London.
"I'm really looking forward to it. It's already a great success. But knowing it's the last match of the season, I'm really going to try to give my best physically and mentally tomorrow to eventually try to get the trophy."