Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych have advanced their chances to qualify for the ATP World Tour finals starting in London on Nov. 9th as both men, currently in eighth and seventh place in the race respectively, won ATP 250 titles. Murray won the title in Vienna while Berdych claimed victory in Stockholm.
Both men had tough finals against opponents also harboring hopes of qualifying for the season finale. Murray had to overcome David Ferrer, in ninth place in the race, 5-7, 6-2, 7-5. Ferrer came back from 0-2 down in the third to lead 4-2 before being broken back. The Spaniard then broke Murray to serve for the match at 5-3 and claim his second consecutive win over the Scot after winning in Shanghai a week ago. Murray, though, was too strong on the return, broke Ferrer to 15 and then won the next three games to take his 30th career title.
The title is another step in Murray’s late 2014 surge to qualify for the World Tour Finals for the seventh consecutive year. Until the Scot won in Shenzen a few weeks ago, ranked outside the top ten, few expected him to make the season ending finale. However, a win over Cilic in Beijing on his run to the semi-finals and a quarter final placing at the ATP 1000 Shanghai Rolex Masters powered him into contention. Murray not only has the motivation of playing in the U.K, but also of proving his criticism of the ATP’s rule to reserve the eighth and final place at the World Tour finals for a slam champion who had also finished inside the top 20 in the race was not out of bitterness that he might miss out on that eighth place to Cilic.
Cilic, though, has made that scenario redundant after reaching the Kremlin Cup semi-finals and qualifying in sixth place for the finals. The Croat, who won his first slam at the U.S Open this season, backed up his ATP finals placing by winning the Kremlin Cup in Moscow today. The second seed beat Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 6-4 to win the title, his fourth of the year.
In Stockholm, Berdych, like Murray, had to come back from a set down to beat Grigor Dimitrov 5-7, 6-4, 6-4. Dimitrov is also in the hunt for qualifying for London in eleventh place. Berdych broke early in the second and third sets and his clean ball striking was too powerful for the Bulgarian as the mach reached the business end. The win puts 2014 back on track for the Czech. After reaching the Australian Open semi-finals and winning the ATP 500 event in Rotterdam, Berdych went from the ATP 1000 event in Madrid to Beijing without getting past the quarter-finals of an ATP event. The Czech, who was beaten 0-6, 2-6 by Novak Djokovic in the Beijing final, showed he was not suffering confidence wise in his win over the Bulgarian. Dimitrov had beaten Berdych three of the four times they had played and was the defending champion in Stockholm, but that history meant nothing as Berdych took his tenth career title.
Next up for Murray in his ATP World Tour Finals campaign is the Paris-Bercy ATP 1000 event. Berdych will compete in the Valencia Open next week. How they, Ferrer and Dimitrov fare will make fascinating viewing as the ATP 2014 season reaches its climax just a couple of weeks away from the ATP World Tour finals in London.
Commentary by Christian Deverille
Photo courtesy of Yann Caradec- License