Tennis

Razor-sharp Rafa claims Murray scalp

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Football News
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A mid-match haircut failed to help Andy Murray as he was well beaten by a resurgent Rafael Nadal at the ATP World Tour Finals.

Bizarrely, after three games of the match Murray sat down on his bench, took a pair of scissors out of his bag and cut his fringe.

He withstood Nadal pressure until the 10th game of the first set but a run of five games in a row for the Spaniard put him on the way to a 6-4 6-1 victory.

The result means Murray is likely to need to win his final group match against Stan Wawrinka at the O2 Arena on Friday to progress to the semi-finals, while he still requires one more victory to guarantee that he will finish the year ranked number two.

Murray and Nadal had only met once before this season, in the final of the clay-court Madrid Masters, when Murray stunned his rival by dominating the match to take one of the most impressive titles of his career.

Nadal was mired in one of the most difficult periods of his career as his previous dominance on the surface ebbed away.

On paper, things have not improved that much but, although he will end the season without a grand slam title for the first time in a decade, Nadal is feeling very differently about his game these days.

It was difficult to tell quite how well he had played against a seriously out-of-sorts Stan Wawrinka on Monday, and he began shakily here, dropping his serve in the opening game.

But he hit straight back and the penetration and placement on his shots soon had Murray on the back foot.

The Scot saved three break points in the sixth game and then two more in the eighth, but his resistance faltered in the 10th as Nadal broke to love to take the opening set.

Murray was ranting and raving, and things were not about to get any better.

Neither man was serving well but it was Murray who was paying the price, and successive double faults helped Nadal to a second straight break at the start of the second set.

Murray was being watched by Davis Cup captain Leon Smith, back from a trip to South America with James Ward and Kyle Edmund, and he will hope his star man is in much better form next weekend.

Nadal broke again to lead 5-1 and then clinched victory on his first match point with a forehand winner that left Murray stumbling behind the baseline.

The statistics did not make pretty reading for the Scot, who made 29 unforced errors and won just 10 per cent of points on his second serve in the second set.

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