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Murray overcomes Nishikori to improve to 2-0 in ATP Finals

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LONDON — Andy Murray survived the longest three-set match in ATP Finals history by outlasting Kei Nishikori 6-7 (9), 6-4, 6-4 and posting a 21st consecutive win on Wednesday.

Top-ranked Murray needed 3 hours, 20 minutes to separate himself from Nishikori. The first set alone took 85 minutes.

It is the first time since the tournament moved to the O2 Arena in 2009 that Murray has won both of his opening two group matches, and he is in pole position to reach the semifinals for the first time in four years.

That could come later Wednesday if Marin Cilic defeats Stan Wawrinka.

Novak Djokovic is already through, and defeat against Nishikori would have hurt Murray’s chances of holding onto top spot in the rankings.

The Scot, who was given another standing ovation when he walked on court, said: “Kei was making me run a lot, he was dictating a bunch of the points. I managed to get enough breaks to win it.

“That’s what you work for, is these moments in places like this. It was an amazing atmosphere.

“I feel OK right now. It’s normally the next day when you feel stiff and sore, but there’s hopefully three days left in the season and I’ll give my best to get through as many matches as I can.”

For all of Murray’s achievements this year, this was the first time he played a top-five opponent since June, when he lost to Djokovic in the French Open final.

Nishikori was one of only three players to beat him in the intervening five months, edging a five-setter in the U.S. Open quarterfinals.

Nishikori also won their only previous meeting here two years ago, and was impressive in beating an albeit lackluster Wawrinka on Monday.

But he had to save a set point at 6-5 down, and needed five set points to take the opener on a wide forehand by Murray.

Murray immediately broke to start the second. Nishikori tied it at 4-4. But Murray broke straight back, and had to save two set points to force a decider.

Murray has played more matches than ever this season and he looked drained, but Nishikori’s decision-making was clouded by fatigue, and lost his serve in the third game.

When a double fault made it 4-1 to Murray, the top seed finally had some breathing space and the end was in sight.

Nishikori showed commendable resolve to retrieve one break, but Murray served out at the second time of asking.

Historical marker for tennis great Tilden rejected again

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) A Pennsylvania panel once again rejected a historical marker for Philadelphia tennis great Bill Tilden.

Tilden became the first American to win Wimbledon in 1920 and also won seven U.S. championships. In 1950, The Associated Press voted him the greatest player of the first half of the century.

A year ago, a panel of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission that approves historical markers voted 4-1 against recommending approval of a marker at Philadelphia’s Germantown Cricket Club, citing Tilden’s convictions on charges involving teenage boys in the 1940s.

Karen Galle, coordinator of the historical marker program, confirmed Wednesday that the panel again voted 4-1 against approving the marker in February and that recommendation was among 54 approved by the commission at its March 22 meeting.

“While the significance of this athlete’s tennis career and talent are indisputable, his convictions for sexual misconduct with underage boys preclude recognition,” commission spokesman Howard Pollman said.

Lack of a marker doesn’t diminish Tilden’s accomplishments but approval “may be perceived to dishonor victims of sexual abuse,” Pollman said. Officials have cited the climate in the commonwealth following the sex abuse scandal involving another sports figure, Penn State’s Jerry Sandusky.

Tilden was arrested in Beverly Hills, California, in November 1946, after a 14-year-old boy was caught driving the star’s car erratically. Officers reported that when the teen exited the car, his pants zipper was down. Police charged Tilden with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and he served seven months in jail. He was arrested again in 1949 on allegations that he violated probation by being in the company of another teen boy, and that he groped a third teen. He served 10 months at a prison farm.

Tilden, born to a wealthy Philadelphia family, was featured regularly in magazines, newspapers and newsreels during his career. He was friends with Hollywood elite and played at the White House at the invitation of President Warren Harding. He’s credited with urging children of all economic backgrounds to learn tennis, once a sport only for the wealthy, and modern players still value his manuals on how to play.

After his convictions, Tilden’s Germantown membership was revoked, and his portrait was removed. In recent years, the club has begun to embrace Tilden’s memory, and a group of Philadelphians has been lobbying for a historical marker at the site.

Injured Murray to miss Davis Cup quarterfinals

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LONDON —¬†Andy Murray will miss Britain’s Davis Cup quarterfinal series against France next month because of an elbow injury.

Murray sustained the injury in practice and also recently withdrew from the Miami Open.

Britain captain Leon Davis says “not having Andy in the side is obviously a big loss to our team, but most importantly we all wish him well for a speedy recovery back to full health and fitness.”

Dan Evans, Kyle Edmund, Jamie Murray and Dom Inglot will line up for Britain on clay in Rouen from April 7-9.