Andy Murray knows he will be the underdog when he takes on world number one Rafael Nadal in the last four of the ATP World Tour Finals on Saturday.Both men will be making their first appearance in the semi-finals in London after exiting at the group stage when the end-of-season championships made its debut at the O2 Arena in 2009.The pair will meet in the afternoon match at 1400 GMT, with Roger Federer playing Novak Djokovic in the second semi at 2000 GMT.For Murray, this weekend offers the possibility of landing the biggest title of his career to date, while Nadal is desperate for victory in the one significant tournament that remains for him to win.The British number one has sent out mixed signals ahead of the match, saying in his press conference on Thursday that he was not confident of beating Nadal before adding on Twitter the following day that the comments had been “sarcastic”.
Despite struggling for consistency in 2010, Murray does in fact have every reason to be hopeful after defeating the Spaniard in two of their three meetings this year.”He’s obviously the best player in the world,” the Briton said on Thursday. “I’ve watched his matches here and he’s been playing unbelievably well.”You know, I don’t seem to beat those guys in the big matches so I’m going to have to play my best tennis against him to win. I need to do it in a big match, in the semis. I have to see whether I can do that or not.”Murray, 23, might have a losing 4-8 record in meetings between the pair but he has actually beaten Nadal at both the US Open and the Australian Open over the last two years, and the Spaniard was in little doubt as to what the Scot was up to.”That’s easy,” Nadal stated. “Pull out of the pressure. Everybody can say the conditions are a little bit easier for him than for me but we can talk for two days, the only thing that really matters is what’s going to happen tomorrow.”I say I’m going to try my best, I know it’s going to be a really difficult match. The only chance for me to win is to play my best tennis and hope that Andy doesn’t play at his highest level, no?”
And a smiling Nadal added: “That’s what I can say. The pressure comes back to him now.”Murray has shown flashes of his undoubted excellence during the group stage at the O2 Arena, and in doing so regained the number four ranking he lost to Robin Soderling last week, but Nadal has been ruthless in seeing off three of the world’s top eight players in straight sets.The 24-year-old Mallorcan completed his personal set of Grand Slam titles by winning the US Open in September and appears in the kind of form to round off a stunning year with one final success on Sunday evening.”It’s a very good end of the season whatever the result [on Saturday],” Nadal reflected. “For me, to finish the season winning all the matches in the group, three victories against top-eight players on probably the most difficult surface for me, is unbelievable.”I’m very happy to be in the semi-finals. It’s going to be a very difficult match against one of the best players in the world. Maybe the circumstances are more favourable for him, but I’m very happy how I am playing, how I improved during the tournament.” – Bbc