Murray hopes to have last laugh after Nadal sets up showdown

The twice-daily river trip between their South Bank hotel and the venue for this week's ATP World Tour Finals has left some of Andy Murray's entourage feeling decidedly queasy. The 23-year-old Scot loves the journey, however, and if he can end his season with two more wins this weekend the boat will have come in like never before in his career.

Victory in the season-ending championships here tomorrow would bring with it a winner's cheque for $1.51m (about £958,000), which would be his biggest prize to date, and 1,300 ranking points, which could be enough to reclaim the world No 3 position from Novak Djokovic.

The only problem is that in order to achieve his goal Murray may have to beat the two players he regards as the greatest of all time. This afternoon he takes on Rafael Nadal, who secured his place in the semi-finals yesterday with his third successive win of the week, a 7-6, 6-1 victory over Tomas Berdych. Roger Federer could await the winner tomorrow, although the Swiss has to win this evening's semi-final first. The final place in the last four was being decided by yesterday's concluding round-robin match between Djokovic and Andy Roddick.

Only five players have ever beaten Nadal and Federer in the same tournament, but Murray is one of them, having done so in Toronto this summer. For all his tongue-in-cheek comments on Thursday night about seeming unable to beat the top players in big matches – "If sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, why don't smart people get it?" he asked on Twitter yesterday – the Scot knows that the best regularly bring out the best in him.

Despite his mauling by Federer in the round-robin phase here on Tuesday, Murray has won eight of his 14 matches against the world No 2. He has won only four out of 12 against Nadal, but all of his victories have come in their last seven meetings and two of them were in semi-finals at Grand Slam tournaments.

"I've played a lot of great matches with him," Murray said. "I enjoy playing against him. It's a great challenge every time. I've played some of my best tennis against him."

Nadal laughed off Murray's suggestion that he had little chance of victory, suggesting that the Scot was trying to deflect the pressure off himself. The world No 1 said that the surface would be in Murray's favour and that he would have to play his best and hope that his opponent was below par. "There – the pressure's back on him now," Nadal laughed.

Earlier in the afternoon a smile could not have been further from Nadal's face. The Spaniard hardly ever argues with officials, but he protested bitterly to Tom Barnes, the tournament supervisor, after a controversial point when he served at 5-6 and 15-15 in the first set.

When a Berdych shot hit the baseline Nadal raised an arm. The Spaniard said afterwards that he was not calling for a video replay challenge but Carlos Bernardes, the umpire, apparently took it as such and awarded the point to Berdych. The incident served only to fire up Nadal, who went on to win the game and take the tie-break 7-3, to much punching of the air.

From 1-1 in the second set Nadal won five games in succession to complete victory in just under two hours. After losing three of his first four matches against Berdych, he has now won eight times in a row without dropping a set.

Having lost all three of his matches here last year, Nadal said he was very happy with his week's work, whatever happens this weekend. "To finish the season winning all the matches in the group, against top-eight players and probably on the most difficult surface for me, is unbelievable," he said.

Nadal v Murray: Major Encounters

Australian Open 4th round 2007

Nadal won 6-7, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1

Match showed Murray could live with the best. Aggressive throughout but faded from midway through fourth set.

Wimbledon quarter-final 2008

Nadal won 6-3, 6-2, 6-4

Nadal quickly took charge as Murray struggled with the weight of Spaniard's shots. Murray did not serve well and Nadal punished anything short.

US Open semi-final 2008

Murray won 6-2, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4

Perhaps the best performance of Murray's career. He earned a place in his first Grand Slam final by taking the game to Nadal from the outset.

Australian Open quarter-finals 2010

Murray won 6-3, 7-6, 3-0 (Nadal retired)

Murray attacked and played big points superbly. Nadal already looked beaten before knee injury forced his retirement.

Wimbledon semi-finals 2010

Nadal won 6-4, 7-6, 6-4

A tight match in which Murray paid for mistakes at key stages. Nadal came back from 2-5 down in the second set and saved five set points in the tie-break.

Sport
footballHe started just four months ago
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
PROMOTED VIDEO
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect