Japan's Kei Nishikori conquers British champ in ATP Finals opener
London: Kei Nishikori made a dream start to his ATP Tour Finals debut as the Japanese star clinched a surprise 6-4, 6-4 victory over Andy Murray on Sunday.
Japan's Kei Nishikori celebrates his 6-4, 6-4 win over Britain's Andy Murray yesterday. Pics/AFP
Nishikori is the first Asian singles player to qualify for the prestigious season-ending tournament at London's O2 Arena and he rose to the occasion with his first ever victory over former Wimbledon champion Murray at the fourth attempt.
The 24-year-old had failed to win even a single set in those losses to Murray, but the last came over two years ago and he has improved greatly since then.
He took the game to Murray right from the start and hit 20 winners in a 95-minute triumph that gives him a good chance of qualifying for the semi-finals from a group that also features Roger Federer and Milos Raonic, who meet later on Sunday.
Britain's Andy Murray reacts after losing a point to Japan's Kei Nishikori at the ATP World Tour Finals in London yesterday
"Maybe in the beginning I was a little bit tight, but I started feeling better and the second set was almost perfect," Nishikori said.
"I knew I had to be more aggressive than usual and that's how I won. It's my goal to go to the semi-final and final," added the Japanese.
It was the latest memorable moment in a breakthrough year for Nishikori, who reached his first Grand Slam final at the US Open in September and became the first Asian man to finish in the world's top 10 since 1973 thanks to a personal best 52 match wins this season.