Prime pork was on display on Day One of the Tour Finals in London. Kei Nishikori and Roger Federer being the little piggies who feasted on their foes.
The opening day of action saw a mild upset in some’s minds as Kei Nishikori beat crowd fave Andy Murray, 6-4, 6-4. Murray had some major issues with his 2nd serve that allowed Nishikori to win 73% of the points off Murray’s 2nd. That’s 19 of 26 possible points that went to Nishikori, a big swing in each set. Murray will be especially disappointed with his first set as he broke Nishikori to go up 3-2, but then lost four straight points on his next service game to allow Nishikori to break right back. Japan’s top dog would struggle to hold serve in his next service game, but fend off a break point and a couple trips to deuce to go up 4-3. Murray held to even it at 4-4 and Nishikori held to go up 5-4. He would then capitalize on his 2nd break opportunity to notch the 1st set.
Murray looked a shade deflated in the 2nd set as he was broken quick in his 1st service game and had to fend off three break points in his next service game to avoid going down 0-4. But give him credit, he was able to break Nishikori to pull within 3-4 and then consolidated to take it even at 4-4. Much like the 1st set though, Nishikori steadied himself to hold to go up 5-4 and then took it to Murray as he won four out of five points in Murray’s final service game to break and win, 6-4. Murray contributed 28 errors in the match.
In the other match in Group B, Milos Raonic was the one who showed nerves as his serve was uncharacteristically broken twice in the first set by Roger Federer who rolled to a 6-1 set win. Raonic was lost on his 2nd serve as he won just one point off seven swings of the racket on his 2nd serve. Federer for his part was stout, winning 77% of his 1st serve points and 75% of his 2nd serve points. He never let Raonic even sniff a break opportunity in the opening set as Raonic won just five points off the Federer serve.
The 2nd set was more like the storline we expected, albeit there were many shaky moments for both players. Raonic would save two break points in the set, but hold the entire way. Federer would face three break points, including a set point when he was serving at 5-6. Fed held though and then mashed Raonic 7-0 in the tie break. There is no doubt that Raonic looked a bit nervy in his debut at the Tour Finals, but unlike Kei Nishikori … he did not recover well from those early nerves.
It will be interesting to see how Raonic manages Tuesday against Andy Murray in his next group match. It’s basically an elimination match for the group. Nishikori and Federer go head-to-head in the other match Tuesday for Group B. The winner with a chance to put himself into prime position to advance out of the group.