Roger Federer beats Andy Murray at ATP Tour Finals
The defeat is only the fourth in 10 matches for Murray against Federer
Roger Federer ensured he will end the year as world number one after beating Andy Murray 3-6 6-3 6-1 in the ATP World Tour Finals in London.
The Swiss was broken twice as the British number one, who also hit six aces, wrapped up the first set.
But Federer upped his game in the second set and made a decisive break in game six to level the match at 1-1.
Murray's serve, which had been so dominant early on, faltered as Federer broke three times to wrap up the win.
Murray said: "I served terribly and that was the main difference in the match.
"In the first set, at least when I was behind in games, I was coming up with big serves, being able to dictate the points. But after that I served pants.
Murray hopeful of making ATP semi-finals
"It was probably the most double faults (eight) I served in a match maybe this year.
"You can't serve at 40% against Roger because you give him so many opportunities to dictate play, but that's what I did.
"I need to concentrate on playing better in my next match against Fernando Verdasco. The most important thing is to qualify for the semi-finals.
"Last year I won all three matches in the group and lost in the semi-finals so maybe this year I can do better, even having lost a match."
The Scot was unable to pinpoint the reason for his loss in form, but he was confident his sharpness would return for the start of the new season.
"I've been struggling to keep my momentum going," said Murray.
"I've been letting players in at the second set, which I wasn't doing at the start of the year. I don't know why that is, whether it's through a lack of matches, or being mentally fatigued, I'm not sure, but I'm sure come January it won't be a problem."
Federer glad to be back on top
The O2 Arena, with hardly an empty seat, gave both players a rapturous welcome and they were immediately rewarded with a fabulous opening point, an epic baseline rally eventually won by Federer when Murray mis-hit a forehand so badly it hit the scoreboard.
Federer went on to break immediately, but Murray hit right back and then took a 4-2 lead when he forced the top seed to go wide with a backhand.
Federer again had chances to break back, but Murray produced two huge first serves when he needed them, sealing the game with a crowd-pleasing slam-dunk smash.
Serving for the set at 5-3, Murray raced into a 40-0 lead but for the first time, showed some nerves as he allowed Federer to recover.
Once again, his serve came to his rescue, a sixth ace earning him a fourth set point and Federer obligingly put his return wide to hand Murray the set.
Federer responded by taking the first game of the second set with ease, sending down his first ace of the match.
The Swiss ace then tested Murray's resolve with a succession of classy winners, but a couple of lapses in concentration, allowed the Scot to hold his serve.
Federer recovered from a slow start to seal his second win of the week
Federer was in no mood to let Murray off the hook in game six after setting up two break points with a typically accurate volley and completed the break with an inside-out forehand to wrong-foot Murray and lead 4-2.
Murray responded to lead 0-30 in Federer's next service game, but two marvellous drop shots, an ace and stunning cross-court forehand put the world number one within a game of levelling.
The Scot comfortably held his next service game and took Federer to deuce in game nine, but he could not stop his opponent taking the match into a deciding set.
And Federer then took advantage of a poor Murray service game to break early in the third set and take charge of the match.
The world number four failed to get a first serve in as Federer went 0-40 up. Murray replied with a huge smash but he could only net when put under pressure following another weak serve.
More mistakes followed in Murray's next service game, culminating in a simple volley being sent agonisingly long to give Federer the double break and a 4-1 lead.
A combination of two Federer aces and two Murray mistakes soon made that 5-1.
And although Murray fought hard in game seven, he netted a forehand as Federer came from a set down for the second time this week, to wrap up victory on his third match point.
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