• Japan Open

Masterful Murray books final date with Nadal

ESPN staff
October 8, 2011
Andy Murray needed 81 minutes to defeat David Ferrer © PA Photos
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Andy Murray will take on Rafael Nadal in the final of the Japan Open after he obliterated David Ferrer on Saturday.

Murray, in the absence of the injured Novak Djokovic, is arguably the form player of the ATP Tour right now, making it back-to-back finals after he won the Thailand Open last week. Certainly the world No. 5, Ferrer, had no answers to the Briton, who roared to a one-sided 6-2 6-3 victory to set up a showdown with Nadal.

The ATP World Tour Finals are on the horizon, beginning November 20, and the season's unofficial fifth grand slam could not be coming at a better time for Murray. Ferrer represented his 11th straight victim, and he has only lost twice since Wimbledon.

In fairness to Ferrer the hard court surface favours Murray's game, but the Spaniard's run to No. 5 in the world is evidence enough that Ferrer has the necessary consistency to provide real danger. The problem was, he encountered a stroke player in Murray who is finding lines with apparent ease right now - resulting in two first-set breaks.

Murray will always make life difficult for his opponent with his agility and hunting capabilities at the back of the court, but it is his capacity to stand up to the baseline and smash winners that allows him to rub shoulders with the game's best players. Ferrer is a big baseline hitter himself, but he was blown away in a top-drawer first set from the Brit.

By game two of the second set the match was effectively over after Murray broke Ferrer's opening service game, after which the Scot merely served out the rest of the match. A total of 81 minutes was all it took for Murray to outclass the man closest to challenging his world No. 4 ranking, and victory means the Brit is more concerned with Roger Federer in third position than Ferrer in fifth.

"I played great from start to finish," Murray told the ATP's official website. "It was always going to be a tough match, but I played smart and I was hitting the ball very deep from the back of the court, so it was a very good performance."

Awaiting Murray in the final is Nadal, who has won more matches than any other player - including Djokovic - this season. The Spaniard picked up his 65th of 2011 against Mardy Fish, who was beaten 7-5 6-1.

The defending champion is bidding to win his first hard court tournament since he triumphed in Tokyo a year ago, and he has already beaten Murray at Wimbledon and the US Open this year. However, on current form, it may well be the world No. 2 who starts as the underdog.

At the China Open, top seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will not contest Sunday's final after he was beaten 6-4 4-6 6-1 by Tomas Berdych. Marin Cilic will provide Berdych's opposition in the final after the Croatian defeated Ivan Ljubicic.

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