LONDON (Reuters) - Andy Murray spent the past week sliding on clay rather than honing his hardcourt skills in preparation for the ATP World Tour Finals but watching him dispatch David Ferrer on Monday you would never have guessed.
The 28-year-old, who has one eye, perhaps two, fixed on next week’s Davis Cup final against Belgium in Ghent, produced a clinical performance to beat the dogged Spaniard 6-4 6-4.
Another round-robin victory will secure the year-end world number two ranking for the first time in his career.
While that would reward him for his best ever season on Tour in terms of match wins -- Monday’s was his 69th -- Murray desperately wants to add the Davis Cup to his two grand slam titles and Olympic gold medal.
Predictably the Belgians are preparing a slow indoor claycourt to try and blunt the world number two, whereas the court inside London’s O2 Arena is a medium-paced blue hardcourt that requires different shots and movement.
It is the reason Murray has been practising with naturalised Briton Aljaz Bedene, who could yet join him in Britain’s team depending on an ITF decision on Tuesday, on the claycourts of west London’s Queen’s Club.
Over the other side of town on Monday, however, Murray was quickly into the groove as he began his seventh attempt to win the elite event featuring the world’s top eight.
“If you’re looking for a little bit of rhythm, he’s also a guy who makes you hit a lot of balls,” he said of Ferrer whose eight double faults helped Murray’s cause.
“The first couple of games my timing was a little bit off. But I got it back pretty quickly, which was pleasing.”
Murray escaped a break point in the opening game and played aggressively thereafter, pushing Ferrer around the court.
He could not capitalise on three break points in the eighth game but was gifted the opening set with a Ferrer double fault.
One lapse, when he was broken to love in the first game of the second set, was quickly corrected as he broke back twice to beat Ferrer for the 12th time in 18 meetings.
Murray said he felt fresh and was confident he could go all the way at the O2 without harming Britain’s chances of winning the Davis Cup for the first time since 1936.j
”If I didn’t play here, I would have gone three weeks or something without playing a match,“ he said. ”Playing against the best players in the world is also fantastic preparation.
“I feel good. Hopefully I can perform well here and in Belgium. I believe I’ve given myself the best chance to do that.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Justin Palmer