Andy Murray close to finals as Nadal pulls out

Andy Murray delivers a backhand return during yesterday's match. Picture: Getty
Andy Murray delivers a backhand return during yesterday's match. Picture: Getty
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Rafael Nadal is to miss the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London to undergo appendix surgery.

The world No 3 announced he was suffering from the condition earlier this month but had been managing it with antibiotics. But, after losing to 17-year-old Borna Coric in the quarter-finals of the Swiss Indoors in Basel yesterday, Nadal announced he was bringing his season to a close.

Speaking to reporters in the Swiss city, the 28-year-old said: “It’s the day to say goodbye for the season. I’m not going to play Paris and London. I am not competitive enough to do that.”

Nadal will go under the knife on 3 November, six days before the start of the season-ending tournament at the O2 Arena.

The development means British No 1 Andy Murray moves up to seven in the ATP Champions Race and is almost certain to be at the event in his adopted home city. The Scot survived a test of his credentials to see off South Africa’s Kevin Anderson in three sets yesterday and secure a place in the semi-finals – and a third meeting in as many weeks with top seed David Ferrer – of the Valencia Open.

The world No 10, chasing his second title in the Spanish city, had endured few problems in earlier wins over Jurgen Melzer and Fabio Fognini but found seventh-seed Anderson a different prospect. Murray lost the opening set on a tie-break, but fought back bravely to claim a 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 6-4 victory which kept the players on court for two hours and 43 minutes.

The pair exchanged breaks early in the match before Anderson gained the upper hand in game seven with a winning cross-court forehand.

The advantage did not last long, though, as a double fault allowed the Scot to break right back, with a tie-break eventually needed to decide the destiny of the opening set. It was Anderson who seized the initiative, moving 6-3 ahead and then wrapping things up with a simple lob at the net. Playing in his fifth successive tournament, tiredness appeared to be creeping up on Murray, who at times looked heavy in his legs and reluctant to move around the court.

The pair traded breaks once more midway through the second set but it was Murray who then gave himself a chance to edge ahead with three break points in game nine. This time he did not pass up the opportunity and produced a winner down the line to take a 5-4 lead, before serving out the set to usher in a decider. That break seemed to be the energy-booster Murray needed, and he broke again at the start of the third set with a delightful lob which Anderson was unable to return. The South African dug deep to get back on level terms but to no avail, and it was eventually left to Murray to serve out the match. Unsurprisingly he did it the hard way, wasting three match points, but finally came good on the fourth thanks to Anderson’s tired forehand hitting the net.

Meanwhile, Serena Williams reached the last four at Singapore’s WTA finals and tied down the year-end world No 1 ranking without hitting a ball yesterday. Simona Halep, who inflicted Williams’ heaviest defeat for 16 years on Wednesday, tended the wound by stealing a set in defeat by Ana Ivanovic.

That was enough to usher Williams through to the BNP Paribas event’s semi-finals, where she will meet Caroline Wozniacki. Maria Sharapova botched three match points before regrouping to beat Angieszka Radwanska in three sets – but still failed to reach the last four come the end of the final group-stage action. Second seed Sharapova slipped out after dropping a set against Radwanska, in spite of her 7-5, 6-7 (7/4), 6-2 victory.

Radwanska sneaked through to meet Halep in the semi-finals, courtesy of Wozniacki’s victory over Petra Kvitova. “She owes me a handbag,” Wozniacki said after helping Radwanska progress thanks to her 6-2, 6-3 win over Kvitova, before refocusing on facing Williams.

Ivanovic won 7-6 (9/7), 3-6, 6-3, but Halep securing the second set pushed Williams through.