Andy Murray is hoping to emulate coach Amelie Mauresmo after keeping his semi-final hopes alive at the ATP World Tour Finals with victory over Milos Raonic.
Roger Federer’s win against Kei Nishikori on Tuesday afternoon meant Murray knew he had to match that to avoid early elimination.
And he did just that, the 6-3 7-5 triumph meaning all scenarios in Group B are still possible heading into the final round of matches on Thursday.
Murray could beat Federer and still go out depending on the score between Raonic and Nishikori, but equally a loss for Murray would not necessarily eliminate him.
Sunday’s defeat by Nishikori had left Murray in a bad position but he took heart from discussions with Mauresmo.
“Amelie was saying, I’m pretty sure it was one of the times she made the final of the (WTA) year-end championships, she lost her first match 6-2 6-2 against (Nadia) Petrova,” said the Scot.
“She obviously wasn’t feeling great. Then she went on to reach the final. It’s nice to have those sort of discussions, having someone that’s experienced having been in a tough situation after the first match.
“I was going in knowing that if I lost the match, I was out. It kind of didn’t really feel like a round robin any more. It was more like a knock-out.
“I obviously played better (against Raonic). I hit the ball a lot cleaner than I did on Sunday from the beginning of the match. So that was pleasing.”
Murray knew he had to raise his game significantly if he wanted to beat a man he had lost to in three of their four previous meetings.
There was no doubt this was better but Murray was significantly helped by Raonic’s forehand having a major off day, the Canadian making 23 unforced errors off his favoured wing alone.
The 23-year-old’s powerful serve was also well below its best, and Raonic admitted he took some pace off in the second set just to make sure he landed more in.
Raonic handed Murray the first break of serve of the match in the sixth game and that proved enough for the Scot to win the opening set.
Murray squandered an early break in the second but resisted Raonic’s pressure and a break for 6-5 set him on the way to victory.
Despite two defeats, Raonic is not yet eliminated but must beat Nishikori in straight sets on Thursday and hope Murray loses in straights, which would give him the chance to progress on percentage of games won.
“There’s a slim possibility,” said a downbeat Raonic. “I’m not going to start counting games now.
“I haven’t served well. I’ve been too passive on the court. I’ve been trying to beat the two guys playing their tennis, and that’s not going to work for me.”
Earlier, Federer made it 70 match wins for the season with a comprehensive defeat of Nishikori.
The Japanese player was the only debutant to win his opening match and was looking to maintain his good record against Federer having beaten him twice from four previous meetings.
Things might have been different had Nishikori converted one of two break points in the third game but Federer saved both and made his opponent pay by breaking in the next game with two bullet forehands.
From there on it was never really a contest with Federer winning 6-3 6-2, and worryingly for Nishikori he was also troubled by pain in his wrist.
No male player other than Federer has yet reached 60 victories this season, and the Swiss also moved to within seven wins of becoming only the third man behind Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl to make it to 1,000 career victories.
Federer, who only needs a set against Murray to make the semis, said: “I think it (70) is a great number.
“I played only the big tournaments this year. Again, I chased all the Masters 1,000s, grand slams and so forth. It’s not easy to win matches there because guys are always very good, the margins are small.
“More important for me is getting closer to the 1,000 number. Not that it’s one I’ve ever aimed to reach, but it would obviously be cool to get there.”