The Race to London is warming up and two of the contenders for the eighth qualifying spot went head to head this week as David Ferrer took on Andy Murray at the Shanghai Rolex Masters on Wednesday. It was the Spaniard who came out on top and he now moves ahead of Murray to sit just 35 points behind eighth-placed Milos Raonic.
After a comfortable first set, Murray lost his grip on the game and was completely outplayed by Ferrer for rest of the match. It was a well-timed return to form for the Spanish number 2 who showed glimpses of his 2012 best to prevail with a 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 score line.
Murray will be rueing a missed opportunity to move within 5 points of Raonic and will now have to play catch-up over the next four weeks with an ATP 500 tournament in Valencia and the Paris Masters still to play. His inability to maintain form over consecutive tournaments will be a concern for the Scot who still seems to be struggling with his mental focus since returning from injury.
In theory, Murray could finish eighth and still not qualify for the end of season finale to be held at London’s O2 arena in November. This is because the ATP will reserve a place for US Open champion Marin Cilic – even if he finishes outside of the final qualifying spots.
Tomas Berdych could move into sixth spot with victory over Gilles Simon in the Shanghai semi-finals on Friday. Berdych is just 45 points behind Marin Cilic who was eliminated in the first round by Ivo Karlovic.
In the overall ATP rankings, 23-year-old David Goffin of Belgium continued his impressive rise up the table to finish the week in a career-high 27th position – a jump of 84 places since the start of the season.
In the top ten, US Open finalist Kei Nishikori from Japan has leapfrogged Berdych to move into the top six for the first time. However, his nine-match winning streak came to end with a second round defeat in Shanghai to 22-year-old American Jack Sock.
It was the first victory over a top ten opponent for Sock who looks set to break into the top 50 for the first time. However, the promising youngster could not progress any further in China and was eliminated by French veteran Julien Benneteau in the third round.