Andy Murray advanced into the semi-finals at World Tour Final's after dismissing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-2 7-6(3). Djokovic's victory over Berdych in the afternoon session left the Scot needing to win just a single set to advance to the knockout stages.
Any early nerves were quickly dispelled as Tsonga's already questionable form hit new lows. A bemused Murray watched on as the Frenchman displayed his full repertoire of shanks, mis-hits, unforced errors, double-faults and troubled Gallic shrugs.
Murray's strategy early in the first set was simple: play to the Tsonga backhand. The French number one has toiled with his particular shot in recent times and, in truth, it was almost painful to watch him struggle. Time and again a deep Scottish backhand into the corner was met with panic and an inevitable error.Read more (354 words)
Murray opened with a break, nudging the door ajar with some trademark corner-to-corner defence before bursting through with a cross court slice so vicious it ought to have come with a health warning. Tsonga could only spoon his reply into the net, setting the scene for the rest of the set.
The British number one held with little fuss before breaking again, all but booking his place in the semis. Tsonga by now looked as if he'd rather be undergoing root canal surgery. The crowd were shell-shocked - they'd come to see tennis, not a one sided slaughter. Thankfully for them the Frenchman began to find the court (if only sporadically) and hauled himself onto the scoreboard in the fifth game.
Murray was unperturbed, even when Tsonga rummaged around in his depleted bag of tricks and pulled out some serve and volley to grab a second hold. Serving at 5-2 the Scot wobbled briefly after spurning two set points, but steadied himself and held, taking the set and guaranteeing a semi-final berth.
With qualification for the knockout stages now assured, Murray took his foot off the gas. At first this didn't matter - Tsonga continued to wrestle with his inner demons and coughed up more break points in the first game of the second set. A double fault handed Murray the game and the Frenchman rolled his eyes and muttered at the heavens.
Having plumbed the depths of mediocrity, Tsonga began to winch himself back into contention. With Murray serving at 4-3, the Frenchman finally succeeded in stringing a series of points together. The Scot was taken by surprise, especially when his opponent crashed a backhand winner down the line on break point.
Back on serve, the match took on a different complexion. Murray's level had dropped - not a surprise when cruising against an inferior opponent - but the Scot clicked up a gear in the tiebreak, putting Tsonga out of his misery with a howitzer ace.
Murray's semi-final opponent is not yet known, though he'll most likely face Federer. The match will be played on Sunday, at a time to be announced.