LONDON – David Ferrer pulled off the first upset of the ATP World Tour Finals by beating an injury-hampered Andy Murray 6-4, 7-5 on Monday.
In the opening match of Group A, Ferrer’s consistency was enough to overcome the third-seeded Murray, who struggled with a groin injury that he said may prevent him from taking any further part in the season-ending tournament.
The seventh-seeded Spaniard broke in the 10th game of the first set and twice came from a break down in the second to stun Murray and the home crowd inside London’s O2 Arena.
Murray finished with 44 unforced errors and made just 46 per cent of his first serves. He said he sustained the injury during training a few days after the Paris Masters earlier this month.
“I’ll decide tomorrow whether I keep playing or not,” Murray said. “If it wasn’t Slams or this event, I wouldn’t have played (at all).”
Murray added that it would be “really gutting” to have to withdraw.
In the last event of a season in which the top players have complained about the gruelling nature of the men’s tour, No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic was due to test his shoulder injury in his opening match against Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic later Monday.
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Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer both came through three-set matches on Sunday to set up the 26th meeting of their long rivalry on Tuesday.
But while Nadal, who struggled with an illness, and Federer were able to overcome their dips in form on the opening day, Murray couldn’t escape his problems.
Ferrer, meanwhile, won his first match at the O2 Arena after going 0-3 last year, and beat Murray for the first time on a hard court after five losses.
“I played very good,” Ferrer said. “I played very consistent all the match. Maybe the first set I play better than the second. In the second sometimes I was a little bit nervous. In important moments, I take my chance, and nothing else.”
Murray beat Ferrer in straight sets in Tokyo and Shanghai on a run of three straight titles in Asia in September and October, part of a 17-1 run following the U.S. Open that helped him overtake Federer for the No. 3 ranking.
British boxer David Haye was in the crowd and tweeted that he was looking forward to seeing his friend Murray “smash the Spaniard!” Instead, Murray repeatedly swung and missed.
He broke for a 2-1 lead in the first set but then immediately conceded the advantage with an error-strewn game. And as Murray’s form fluctuated wildly, Ferrer maintained his trademark consistency from the baseline.
Serving to stay in the set at 5-4 down, Murray asked the umpire to call for the trainer and subsequently dropped serve for the second time, blazing a forehand long and wide on Ferrer’s second set point.
The trainer gave Murray a vigorous massage during the injury time-out, and it seemed to have done the trick when Murray immediately broke serve in the second set.
The stadium was about two-thirds full for the afternoon session and Murray’s performance didn’t give them much to shout about as he first lost serve to love in the fourth game and then double-faulted to give up another break in the eighth.
Ferrer, meanwhile, found his best form just when it counted. Leading 6-5, the Spaniard punched a perfect volley onto the sideline to bring up match point, and then pounced on an ill-advised drop shot from Murray to seal the win.
If Murray decides to continue, he will face the loser of the Djokovic-Berdych match on Wednesday, needing a win to maintain any realistic hope of reaching the semifinals.
Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia is the first in line to replace Murray if he withdraws.