Federer crushes Murray, Nishikori reaches semis

Thu Nov 13, 2014 7:40pm EST
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - Hidden behind the artistic beauty of Roger Federer's tennis lurks the primal instinct of a cold-hearted killer and on Thursday Andy Murray was the unwitting victim as he was hammered 6-0 6-1 in his own backyard.

Already assured of a place in the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour Finals after Kei Nishikori's three-set win in Group B earlier in the day, Federer only required a set against Murray to top the standings.

He managed that objective in 24 spellbinding minutes, allowing former Wimbledon champion Murray only eight points in the opening set, then went in pursuit of a rare 'double bagel' -- the nickname for a tennis whitewash.

At 6-0 5-0 and 30-0 ahead on Murray's serve the O2 crowd, many of whom were in the Federer camp, held its breath.

Swiss maestro Federer then missed a relatively easy volley and Murray somehow clawed his way to a game -- avoiding the fate that befell Argentina's Gaston Gaudio in 2005 when Federer recorded the only 6-0 6-0 win in Tour Finals history.

Federer ended Murray's torment a game later and will now go in search of a seventh season-ending title to cap a remarkable comeback year for the 33-year-old after a disappointing 2013 when his powers appeared on the wane.

Tournament debutant Nishikori deservedly joins Federer in the last four as Group B runner-up after beating alternate David Ferrer 4-6 6-4 6-1 in the day's first singles.

Ferrer was a late replacement for Milos Raonic after the Canadian withdrew on Thursday morning with a leg injury and almost inevitably the dogged Spaniard ensured the first three-set match of a round-robin phase littered with easy wins.   Continued...

Roger Federer of Switzerland (R) embraces Andy Murray of Britain (L) after defeating Murray in their tennis match at the ATP World Tour finals at the O2 Arena in London November 13, 2014. REUTERS/Toby Melville