New Delhi: In the final round-robin match of the 2015 ATP World Tour Finals, which also served as a virtual quarter-final match, Stan Wawrinka shocked the home favourite Andy Murray to set-up an all-Swiss last-four clash with compatriot Roger Federer.
In front of a packed and boisterous O2 Arena crowd in London on Saturday, the 30-year-old produced a workmanlike manner to subdued his higher-ranked opponent. The final Ilie Nastase group match lasted one hour 55 minutes with Wawrinka winning in straight sets 7-6(4), 6-4.
It's Wawrinka's last four appearance for the third straight year.
The first set started with both players holding their respective serves till the seventh game, with Wawrinka leading 4-3. The Swiss, then, broke Murray to take a 5-3 lead, only to see himself losing his own serve. In the tie-breaker, despite trailing 2-4, Wawrinka won the set in 66 minutes.
The second set started in disastrous fashion for the home favourite, losing his service game. And it was all that Wawrinka needed to stamp his authority in the match. The Swiss then broke Murray again in the seventh game to take a 5-2 lead. From a slice unforced error, Murray gave himself two break-points to get into the set and match.
There seemed to be a bit of resistance coming from Murray, getting his first break in the set, then subsequently holding his serve for 4-5. Wawrinka, serving for the match for the second time, soon trailed 0-30, before producing a huge cross court shot, which Murray failed to keep in play.
While trying reach t another huge cross court shot from Wawrinka, Murray wriggled, giving a fright to the home crowd. And in Wawrinka's first match point with a overhead smash, Murray smashed his racquet. Another deuce ensued, before Wawrinka was denied of his second match point.
But in the next match point, Murray sent long his cross court shot.
The result also served as a blow to the Scots' bid to end the year as the world number two. But, Murray still has a chance to climb to the highest year-end ranking of his career, if Federer loses a match this week.
After the defeat, the Great Britain captain will now focus on Great Britain's Davis Cup final against Belgium next weekend in Ghent.
The Swiss duo plays in the second semi-final on Saturday.
Earlier, Nadal continued his supreme form in the tournament, beating his Spanish compatriot David Ferrer in three sets to remain unbeaten. In the two-hour and 37-minute match, the world number five fought back from a set down to win 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 6-4.
It was already a dead rubber with Nadal confirmed as the Ilie Nastase group topper, but nonetheless match produced a dogged fight between the two Spaniards.
Ferrer, who was already eliminated after losing both his previous matches to Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, tried to salvage some pride, and earned a sizeable financial incentive of £109,000.
The seventh ranked player reduced some exhilarating tennis to take the first set. After losing two service games, Ferrer clawed back to claim the opening set via tie-breaker in one hour.
But Nadal responded in style, winning the two second set thanks to the lone break, in the eighth game. By then, the former world number one had slowly but surely started to dictate the rallies.
The third set started with a huge 20-point first game with Ferrer saving five break points. Then, both the players managed to hold their respective serves. In the ninth game, Nadal broke Ferrer's service in the first opportunity and served out.
And, it was the first time in 44 matches that Ferrer has lost after wining the first set.
For the 14-time Grand Slam winner, it served as a perfect warm-up game ahead of his semi-final clash with world number one Djokovic, who qualified from the Stan Smith group as the runner-up. It is Nadal's fifth semi-final in seven appearances.