Murray survives match point to beat Raonic at ATP finals

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LONDON — Andy Murray survived a match point to keep alive his chances of finishing the year as the top-ranked player by defeating Milos Raonic 5-7, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (9) Saturday in the semifinals of the ATP finals.

After squandering chances while serving for the match twice in the final set, Murray converted on his fourth match point at the tiebreaker to finally come through. The victory keeps him in position to secure his No. 1 ranking at the end of the season for the first time in his career.

Murray needed 3 hours, 38 minutes to beat Raonic in the longest ever three-setter in the ATP finals.

“Obviously it was unbelievably tough,” Murray said. “I had to fight very, very hard. Being broken twice serving for the match was frustrating. It was one of the harder matches I’ve played indoors. They are never this long. It was really tough.”

Murray may not need to win Sunday’s final to reach his goal.

If Novak Djokovic loses to Kei Nishikori in the second semifinal later Saturday, Murray will automatically guarantee the year-end top ranking. And if Djokovic advances to the final, the winner on Sunday will secure the No. 1 spot.

“I’m tired,” Murray said. “I’ve played so much tennis the last few months. I’ll just give my best effort tomorrow. It’s going to be tough, obviously, but I’ll give my best shot.”

Murray arrived at the tournament simply needing to do better than Djokovic to finish the year at No. 1, a position he has held since winning the Paris Masters this month.

He had won all six of his meetings with Raonic this year, including a straight-sets victory in the Wimbledon final.

Two-time champ Azarenka gets Australian Open wild card

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Two-time former champion Victoria Azarenka has been awarded a wild card for the Australian Open.

Azarenka, who won the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013, has been involved in a custody dispute involving her son Leo, who was born last Dec. 19.

She hasn’t competed anywhere since Wimbledon, where she lost to Simona Halep in the fourth round on July 10. The dispute with her former partner started shortly after Wimbledon ended.

Azarenka has played only six matches this year and is ranked 208th.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said on Wednesday that every assistance would be provided to the former No. 1, adding “Vika’s current situation is obviously very difficult for her and we have reached out to offer any support we can.”

The Australian Open starts on Jan. 15.

Nadal, Muguruza win ITF player of the year awards

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LONDON — Rafael Nadal and Garbine Muguruza have won the International Tennis Federation’s player of the year awards.

At 31, Nadal becomes the oldest ITF men’s world champion after a season in which he won a 10th French Open and a third U.S. Open.

The Spaniard also became the oldest player to finish the year at No. 1 since the ATP rankings began in 1973.

Muguruza dropped only one set en route to her first Wimbledon title and finished the year at No. 2 behind Simona Halep.

“Becoming ITF world champion in such a competitive year is amazing for me,” said Muguruza, who is also Spanish. “(Nadal) is a great role model for all of us, so it is a great moment for tennis in Spain.”