Returning hero Murray masters Cilic, Nishikori wins

Mon Nov 14, 2016 6:14pm EST
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - If Andy Murray was grateful to Marin Cilic for facilitating his rise to the summit this month it was not evident as he added the Croatian to his lengthening list of victims at the ATP World Tour Finals on Monday.

It was Cilic's defeat of Novak Djokovic at the Paris Masters that opened the door for Murray to seize the number one ranking he had spent his whole career pursuing.

Murray repaid the favour with a 6-3 6-2 win -- his 20th in succession -- although it was far from a drubbing as Cilic tried his utmost to ruin the Scot's homecoming.

Four more performances like that at the O2 Arena this week should guarantee the 29-year-old will end 2016 leading the pack.

Murray had lost his most recent meeting with Cilic, the Cincinnati Masters final in August, and on Wednesday he will face Japan's Kei Nishikori who stopped him in the U.S. Open quarter-finals -- Murray's last Tour level defeat.

Nishikori had earlier beaten Swiss Stan Wawrinka 6-2 6-3 in the John McEnroe group -- although that match was as one-sided as the scoreline suggested with Wawrinka badly off key.

Murray has been handed a tougher-looking group than Novak Djokovic, the man he deposed and who could still snatch back the top ranking, but he cleared the first hurdle in style in front of a near full house who welcomed him home like a returning hero.

"It was a great reception," Murray, Britain's first ATP singles world number one, told reporters.   Continued...

Britain Tennis - Barclays ATP World Tour Finals - O2 Arena, London - 14/11/16 Great Britain's Andy Murray celebrates after winning his round robin match against Croatia's Marin Cilic  Reuters / Stefan Wermuth Livepic