Free-pass Murray to face Tsonga for Vienna title


VIENNA: Andy Murray was given a helping hand in his bid to snatch the world number one spot when Spanish veteran David Ferrer withdrew from their Vienna semi-final on Saturday with a leg injury.

Wimbledon and Olympic champion Murray will face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Sunday’s final after the Frenchman saved a match point in a gruelling 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (8/6) victory over Ivo Karlovic.

Murray, the 2014 Vienna title winner, can snatch Novak Djokovic’s world number one ranking if he wins Sunday’s final as well as next week’s Paris Masters.

However, even if Murray succeeds on both fronts, Djokovic must still lose before the final in the French capital for the British star to take the top spot.

“I knew that David had an injury at the beginning of the week,” said Murray.

“He played a very long match yesterday (against Victor Troicki), so that was unfortunate for him. He’s one of the more robust players and doesn’t often have too many niggles.

“He must have been in quite a bit of pain. It’s unfortunate for him, but I’ll try to get ready for the final and use today as a rest day.

“It will be a hard match, but I’m motivated to finish the season strong. Being in another final after a tough week is good.”

Defending champion Ferrer, whose only other career match withdrawal came in 2009, said he handed Murray a walkover in order not to cause long-term damage to his left leg.

“After yesterday’s match, I finished with an injury in my left leg,” said Ferrer.

“The problem is in the muscle and now I will wait 48 hours for the MRI results. I have to be ready for next season.”

Tsonga, the 2011 champion in Vienna, will look to overturn a four-match losing streak against Murray in Sunday’s final.

Murray leads their head-to-head 13-2, a record which includes their only meeting in 2016 in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon.