The London Eye was no place for the faint-hearted in yesterday's gusting winds, but Andy Murray has proved in his ascent up the world rankings that he has a head for heights. Murray joined the Bryan brothers, tennis officials and journalists on the giant ferris wheel to make the draw for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena and should have no reason to fear the challenges that lie ahead next week.
The tournament features the eight players who have won the most ranking points through the year. They all play three round-robin matches, beginning on Sunday, with two proceeding from each group to knock-out semi-finals a week on Saturday followed by the final a day later.
Murray is in a group with Roger Federer, Juan Martin del Potro and Fernando Verdasco. Federer and Del Potro have won the last three Grand Slam titles between them, but Murray has a good head-to-head record against the Swiss, having won six of their nine meetings, while the Argentine has looked physically and mentally spent since winning the US Open. Verdasco beat Murray in this year's Australian Open but has lost to him in all seven of their other encounters.
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic head the second group, though Murray may be just as happy to have avoided the other two players in that section. Nikolay Davydenko knocked the Scot out of last year's semi-finals and has won four of their nine meetings, while Robin Soderling, who has been called in to replace the injured Andy Roddick, excels on indoor courts. "His record indoors is one of the best in the world," Murray said. "He's a very good guy to have stepped in for Roddick, but that shows you what quality there is around.
"All of the guys are tough, otherwise they wouldn't be here. Rafa is always going to be tough because he's such a competitor and there's no one tougher than Roger at his best. Novak's obviously playing really well and he's always difficult to play against when he's confident.
"People who saw Rafa's matches in Paris last week say that he was struggling a little bit. He said he wasn't that happy with the way he is playing either, but by the time it starts I am sure he will have had enough practice and I think these courts will suit him quite well."
Tour finals: The draw
Group A R Federer (Swit), A Murray (GB), J M Del Potro (Arg), F Verdasco (Spain).
Group B R Nadal (Spain), N Djokovic (Serb), N Davydenko (Rus), R Soderling (Swe).