The newly crowned world number one Andy Murray, playing his first match as the highest ranked player in the world made a winning start to his campaign for the year ending world number One ranking with a masterly 6-3, 6-2 win over the in form Marin Cilic of Croatia on Day two at the O2 arena in London. Earlier in the day Kei Nishikori of Japan had a surprisingly easy 6-2, 6-3 win over Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland.
In what was the fifteenth career meeting between the two, there were break point chances in all the five games to start the match and it featured three breaks of serve. While Murray saved three break points he did loose his own serve once, the Dunblane native converted both the break points he had in the first set. The second set was all Murray as raced to his 20th consecutive match win in ninety one minutes on court.
Murray improves to 12-3 against Cilic who had beaten the Scott in the final of the ATP 1000 event in Cincinnati to capture his maiden Masters Series crown. In the first match of the day in the John McEnroe group, Kei Nishikori of Japan never lost serve in the sixty seven minute match and lost just eleven points on serve. The fifth ranked player from Japan avenged his U.S. Open semi final loss to the eventual champion Wawrinka and is now 3-4 in career meetings between the two.
Nishikori broke serve twice in each set, in the fifth and seventh game of the first set, and then again in the fifth and ninth game of the second set. He never faced a break point in the entire match. He hit 19 winners and made the most of 31 unforced errors from the Swiss. Nishikori who has qualified for this event for the third consecutive year, next plays Andy Murray whom he beat in five sets in the U.S. Open quarter-final match in September.
The following is the standing in the John McEnroe group after the first round of matches.
Andy Murray 1-0 (1-0)
Kei Nishikori 1-0 (1-0)
Stanislas Wawrinka 0-1 (0-2)
Marin Cilic 0-1 (0-2)
The following is the line up of matches to be played in the Ivan Lendl group on Tuesday with my pick mentioned first:-
Novak Djokovic (2) (62-8) v. Milos Raonic (4) (51-15); Djokovic leads 7-0
Dominic Thiem (8) (57-22) v. Gael Monfils (6) (44-16); Thiem leads 1-0.
The five time champion from Serbia who has won the last four edition of the season ending finale, has dropped only one set to Raonic in their seven previous meetings. However the Wimbledon finalist from Canada stands a good chance against Djokovic who too has a chance to end the year at number one for the third consecutive year and for the fifth time in six years. The first match of the day between the Austrian Dominic Thiem and the Frenchman Gael Monfils will be a battle of first time qualifiers at the season ending finale and gives each player a chance to register their maiden win at the event.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]