(Reuters) – Top seed Andy Murray continued his pursuit of Novak Djokovic in the race to end the year as number one in the ATP rankings with a crushing 6-2 6-3 defeat of Spain’s David Ferrer to reach the final of the China Open on Saturday.
The 29-year-old, yet to drop a set in Beijing, clocked up a seventh successive victory over the dogged Ferrer to set up a final against Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov.
Dimitrov was given a walkover in his semi-final after Canada’s Milos Raonic withdrew due to an ankle injury.
With Djokovic not defending his title in China because of an elbow problem Murray could close the gap to 1,555 points if he wins the title — a sizeable gap but that the British player could overturn with a strong finish to the season.
“I felt like if I could find a way to get through the first couple of matches, I’d start to feel better and play better here,” Murray, who has had an exhausting summer in which he won Wimbledon and the Olympics, said.
“Thankfully that’s been the case so far this week. I’ll try to play another high-level match tomorrow.
“But it’s very positive leading into Shanghai. Hopefully I can finish the year strong.”
Murray leads Dimitrov 7-3 in head-to-heads but did lose to the Bulgarian this year in Miami.
Big-serving Raonic was forced to play twice on Friday, beating Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri and Pablo Carreno Busta to advance to the last four and he sustained the injury during the win over the Spaniard.
“Yesterday during my second match in the evening, I rolled over my ankle, obviously caused it some level of a sprain,” the Canadian told the ATP website.
“I did a test this morning, which showed I had a partial tear on the outside of my ankle. I was told to give it a try. I tried to warm up just before the match like I would normally, and I was unable to play.”
(Reporting by Ian Rodricks in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)