Andy Murray took a huge step towards securing his place in next month’s Barclays ATP World Tour Finals when he claimed his third title in the space of just five weeks by winning the Valencia Open on Sunday. The Scot did it the hard way, saving five match points before beating Spain’s Tommy Robredo 3-6, 7-6, 7-6 in a final that lasted three hours and 20 minutes.
Both men could barely stand at the end of their second gruelling final in the last 29 days. Murray had also saved five match points when he beat Robredo over three sets in high heat and humidity in the final of the Shenzhen Open in China last month.
The victory takes Murray into fifth place in the “Race to London”. The eight spots in the World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena go to the players who have earned the most ranking points in the calendar year, though Marin Cilic, who is currently seventh in the list, is guaranteed a place as US Open champion. Rafael Nadal, who is third, has pulled out of the event because of his impending appendix operation.
Roger Federer, who claimed his sixth Basel title when he beat David Goffin 6-2, 6-2 in the final yesterday, Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka and Cilic have secured the first four places in London. Murray, Kei Nishikori, Tomas Berdych, David Ferrer, Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov are all in contention for the four remaining places. However, it would take an unlikely combination of results at this week’s Paris Masters, which is the last tournament of the regular season, to deny Murray.
After his defeat in the quarter-finals of the US Open last month Murray had faced an uphill task to qualify for the Finals, but he has played five tournaments in a row and contested 20 matches over the last 32 days in a quest to build his ranking points total. Along the way he has won titles in Shenzhen, Vienna and now Valencia.
The extra 200 points earned by winning yesterday’s final could prove crucial, particularly as Murray is seeded to meet Djokovic, the world No 1, in the Paris quarter-finals.
The Valencia final was the longest on the ATP tour this year. Robredo had two match points in the second set tie-break, led 4-3 with a break in the third set and had three more match points in the deciding tie-break. However, Murray, who broke serve only twice in the match, dug deep to stay in contention.
When the Scot converted his second match point with a backhand winner he fell on his back in exhaustion as much as in celebration. After embracing an equally shattered Robredo at the net, Murray lay sprawled on his chair for several minutes before climbing wearily to his feet for the presentation ceremony.
Murray, who will climb back to No 8 in today’s updated world rankings list, has now won 31 career titles, which puts him fourth on the list of currently active players behind Federer (82), Nadal (64) and Djokovic (46).
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