Murray wobbles but hangs on to beat Nishikori in thriller

Wed Nov 16, 2016 7:35pm EST
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - Andy Murray has already scaled the tennis summit but Japan's Kei Nishikori did his best to loosen his footing before falling in a three-hour thriller at the ATP World Tour Finals on Wednesday.

Home favorite Murray's insatiable will power allowed him to prevail in a brutal encounter 6-7(9) 6-4 6-4, keeping him on course for his first title at the year-ender.

Should he achieve that in his eighth attempt it would guarantee the 29-year-old end the year as world number one ahead of Novak Djokovic who would steal back the crown if he manages a fifth straight title at the O2 Arena.

The path will be a rocky one though if Wednesday's cliffhanger -- the longest match in the event's seven-year residence in London -- is anything to go by.

Misfiring Murray looked in trouble when Nishikori edged a 20-point tiebreak to win an 85-minute opening set.

But he clawed his way back to claim a 21st consecutive victory in three hours and 20 minutes.

It avenged his five-set defeat at the hands of Nishikori in the U.S. Open quarter-finals -- from which he has since embarked on the run that snapped Djokovic's 122-week hold on power.

"I wasn't able to dictate many of the points," Murray said. "More so in the third set. But not in the first couple. I was having to run, fight, get as many balls back as I could.   Continued...

Britain Tennis - Barclays ATP World Tour Finals - O2 Arena, London - 16/11/16 Great Britain's Andy Murray in action during his round robin match against Japan's Kei Nishikori  Action Images via Reuters / Paul Childs Livepic