Nothing will detract from his achievements of the last six weeks but Andy Murray was given a reminder here on Friday night of the gap he still needs to bridge in order to start winning the sport’s biggest prizes again.
Twenty-four hours after a run of 20 victories and just two defeats in 36 days had finally secured his qualification for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, Murray was beaten 7-5, 6-2 by Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals of the Paris Masters. It was the world No 1’s seventh win in his last eight meetings with Murray.
Djokovic, whose outstanding form has become a feature of this time of year, wore Murray down with the sheer consistency of his game. There were many excellent rallies in the first set, but Murray made more mistakes and the defending champion was just the man to punish them. Murray faded badly in the second set, Djokovic winning 20 of the last 25 points.
Even in a highly competitive first set Djokovic always had a slight edge. Murray had already saved three break points when three forehand errors cost him the set when he served at 5-6. The Scot made the first break of the second set to lead 2-1 but then lost five games in a row. In Saturday’s semi-finals Djokovic will meet the winner of last night’s encounter between Kei Nishikori and David Ferrer.
“I started rushing points at the end,” Murray said afterwards. “As soon as the point got over five shots I was winning more of them, but I made too many mistakes early in rallies.”
However, the world No 8 said he would go into the World Tour Finals, which begin in London in eight days’ time, encouraged by his recent form. “The last six weeks have been fantastic,” he said. “I got through them with some really tough, long, physical matches – and against top players.”
Roger Federer’s hopes of replacing Djokovic at the top of the world rankings suffered a setback when he was beaten 7-6, 7-5 by Milos Raonic, who had lost all six of their previous meetings.
Raonic had to defend only one break point in the match. In the semi-finals Raonic will meet Tomas Berdych, who beat Kevin Anderson 6-7, 6-4, 6-4 to secure his place in the World Tour Finals for the fifth year in a row.Reuse content