Andy Murray survived another marathon match to beat Milos Raonic after an incredible duel to reach the final. Novak Djokovic awaits, with the winner certain to be named world number one at the end of 2016.
Andy Murray kept a grip on the ATP top ranking as he won a record-breaking match against Milos Raonic at the World Tour Finals on Saturday, reaching the final with a 5-7, 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (11-9)
Murray will face the world's second highest-ranked player, Novak Djokovic, after the Serb thrashed Japan's Kei Nishikori 6-1 6-1 in the other semi-final - barely breaking sweat in match which lasted little more than an hour.
Conversely, Murray's marathon semi lasted three-hours and 39-minutes - a match that ranked as the longest match in Tour Finals history and the longest ever played since the event moved to London in 2009.
"This is one of hardest matches I've played indoors. I didn't expect to play a long one with someone with a serve like Milos," said Murray.
The Scot, who saved a match point in the final set tie-break, must win the Tour Finals for the first time to be guaranteed to finish 2016 on top of the world rankings. Djokovic is still able to overhaul him if he takes the title for a record-equalling sixth time.
"It was an amazing atmosphere. The longer the match went on the louder the crowd got," Murray said. "This is what we play for. Matches like this and arenas like this."
Djokovic might find Murray running low on energy after the Wimbledon champion was pushed to his limits by Raonic just days after he had to endured the previous longest match in the tournament, a victory over Nishikori that took three hours and 20 minutes.
"I'm tired. I've played so much tennis over the last few months. I'll give it my best effort, the best of what I have." said Murray.
Raonic twice broke Murray when he served for the match in the final set and saved three match points in the decisive tie-break. But the Canadian fourth seed couldn't take the one match point that came his way in a thrilling denouement that eventually went Murray's way to repeat the outcome of their meetings in the Wimbledon and Queen's finals on the other side of London earlier this year.
Murray's 23rd successive victory set a new career-best for the 29-year-old, but only a 24th would bring a fitting finale to the best year of his life.
His opponent, Djokovic, won the title in the past four years and is only one short of Roger Federer's six in total. The Serb lost his world number-one ranking to Murray earlier this month but will seize it back if he defeats the Briton in Sunday's final.
hf/mf (AFP, dpa, UTC)