Down but not out: injured Murray wants to play on

Scot struggles with groin injury in defeat at World Tour Finals, but insists 'there is still a chance'

The O2 Arena

This was not how the script was supposed to read. After enjoying the best run of his career over the last two months Andy Murray entered this week's Barclays ATP World Tour Finals hereinLondon as one of the favourites, but a groin injury is threatening to bring a premature end to his participation in the season-ending finale.

Following a lacklustre defeat to David Ferrer in his opening round-robin match yesterday, Murray revealed that he has been affected by a groin strain he suffered in practice last week. The world No 3, who lost 6-4, 7-5, said he might have to pull out of the tournament before his second match tomorrow against Tomas Berdych, who was beaten 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 by Novak Djokovic in yesterday's other singles match.

Murray, who had lengthy on-court treatment for the injury at the end of the first set, said it would be "gutting, really gutting" if he had to withdraw, but added: "You've got to do the right thing sometimes. I didn't know exactly how it was going to feel on the court today. I haven't been able to do too much training this week. I played and didn't feel particularly great. I'll see if I feel any better tomorrow."

It is a bitter blow for Murray, who said he would not have attempted to play if it had been a match in any tournament other than the year-end finals or a Grand Slam event. The 24-year old Scot has been the game's outstanding player this autumn, winning three tournaments in succession in Asia and enjoying a career-best run of 17 successive victories.

He set himself two major goals in the latter part of the season – to improve his world ranking and to do well here – and may not achieve either. Having taken Roger Federer's No 3 spot in the rankings, Murray could drop down again to No 4 if he does not win a match this week and the Swiss reaches the final. Murray would almost certainly have to win his remaining two group matches to qualify for the semi-finals – and even then he would not be certain to go through.

Ferrer, the world No 5, is a fine player and a formidable athlete who keeps forcing his opponent to hit the extra shot, but a fit Murray, in his current form, would surely have beaten the 29-year old Spaniard. Murray had won all five of their previous matches on hard courts, including two in the last two months. Hampered by the injury, however, Murray was unable to move with his usual fluency. He struggled to get himself in position to hit the ball and as a consequence made 44 unforced errors, a huge number for a player who is normally so consistent.

Murray's tennis was as subdued as his bright red shorts were loud. When he is suffering, there are times when Murray seems to find it hard to dig in and rise above his physical difficulties. Instead, his problems are evident in his body language or in the running conversations he conducts with himself at the back of the court. Compare that with Rafael Nadal, whose demeanour barely changed on Sunday evening when he beat Mardy Fish after nearly three hours despite being wracked by stomach pains for the last hour.

Nevertheless, Murray still had his chances, especially after making the first break of serve in both sets. As he has done too often in the past, however, the Scot failed to drive home his advantage and allowed his opponent to break back immediately. Murray made the first break to lead 2-1 in the opening set, but dropped his own serve in the following game in tame fashion, thanks to four missed forehands. Almost the only time in the match when he really opened his shoulders came in the sixth game, when he hit a superb running backhand crosscourt pass and then a thumping forehand winner

The crowd in the 17,500-capacity arena, which was barely two-thirds full, briefly came to life, but for most of the match they were as listless as Murray. The Scot saved the first set point against him when he served at 4-5 but missed a forehand on the second as Ferrer took the first set in 57 minutes. The treatment Murray received appeared briefly to do the trick as he took a 2-0 lead in the second set, but Ferrer levelled for 2-2, taking advantage of another loose game by the Scot.

At 2-3 Murray clung on to his serve, saving two break points. He appeared to have averted the crisis when he broke in the following game, but once again he promptly let Ferrer back into the set, dropping serve with a double-fault. When Murray served at 5-6 Ferrer forced match point with a volley winner and converted it when a poor drop shotby the Scot gave the Spaniard the chance to hit a winning backhand. Berdych, who ended Murray's recent unbeaten run with victory in the Paris Masters 11 days ago and has won their last three meetings, had his chances to beat Djokovic. The World No 1 made a slow start but improved  steadily and did not appear to be troubled by the shoulder injury which forced him to pull out of Paris.

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?