Stan Wawrinka v Andy Murray
These two players are meeting for just the second time in 2016 with the first ending in a comfortable win for Andy Murray at the French Open in the Semi Final. Prior to that the last match between Murray and Stan Wawrinka actually came at the O2 Arena last year in a final Group match which saw Wawrinka beat Murray in straight sets and move through to the Semi Final at his expense.
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The same could happen this Friday in the first match of the afternoon as a straight sets win will put Stan Wawrinka through to the Semi Final yet again at the World Tour Finals. He is coming in off a much more impressive performance than what Wawrinka could produce in his straight sets loss to Kei Nishikori and the Swiss player will believe he can do enough to win this match.
It will be interesting to see the kind of levels that Murray can produce after struggling for over three hours in his win over Nishikori just two days ago. He has played so much tennis in recent weeks and that match has to have taken a toll on a player that hasn’t faced the top competition in his run of wins in the last month.
Someone like Wawrinka won’t be overawed by playing Murray and bringing his best to the court will give him every chance to beat a tired opponent. The home favourite does need a set to make it through to the Semi Finals, but Wawrinka will be more motivated throughout and I do think he can win this match outright.
However, I think taking the games here might make the most sense at odds against and I like Wawrinka giving himself a chance to win this match at the least. Murray is unlikely to give up or not offer his best, but I do think he could have some fatigue issues and might have preferred coming on in the evening for a few more hours rest.
This has all the makings of a tight match and I do think Wawrinka can be backed with the games to at least keep things competitive in what could be another gruelling match for Murray.
Marin Cilic v Kei Nishikori
There is plenty on the line for Kei Nishikori as he looks for the win that will be enough to take him through to the Semi Finals. Regardless of what happens in the first match, a win would be enough to take the Japanese player into the next Round, although he potentially only needs a set if Andy Murray has won the match against Stan Wawrinka earlier in the day.
You can’t predict with any accuracy what will be required for Nishikori by the time this match begins, but my personal opinion is that Stan Wawrinka may just get the better of Murray and so Nishikori might be under pressure to earn a win. He does have a strong record against Marin Cilic, although it should be noted that it was the latter who won their most recent match last month in the Final in Basel.
Cilic doesn’t have a lot to play for, but won’t want to head into the Davis Cup Final after losing all three matches in the Group here in London. That should be motivation enough despite being out of the tournament and I do think he will bring in a full effort in this match. The Croatian might also have an edge with the energy he has in the tank after Nishikori was put through the ringer against Andy Murray and spending so much time on court on Wednesday in that loss.
We have seen in the past that Nishikori can struggle with his conditioning and that match with Murray is certainly going to be on that tests what he has left for this tournament. That should enable Cilic to get into this one and he did show in Basel that he can take advantage of the second serve that Nishikori possesses, a second serve that may have a little less on it than usual if Nishikori is feeling the strain of his second match in the Group.
It might also mean Nishikori is not as quick around the court as he was and Cilic has the firepower to drag him out of the tournament with him. I do think Cilic has every chance of winning this match outright, but I will back him with the small amount of games being given to him and look for a competitive match at the least.
Prices correct at time of writing.