London: Roger Federer and Andy Murray easily secured spots in the semifinals of the ATP World Tour Finals on Thursday with straight-sets victories in their last round-robin matches.
Federer continued his dominance over Robin Soderling, beating the Swede 7-6 (5), 6-3 to earn top spot in Group B of the season-ending tournament. Murray followed up by recovering from a shaky start to beat David Ferrer 6-2, 6-2 and hand the Spaniard his third straight loss in the group phase.
Their semifinal opponents will be decided on Friday, when the last round-robin matches in Group A are played.
Federer won his third straight group match and improved his career record against Soderling to 15-1, with his only loss to the Swede coming in this year's French Open quarterfinals.
"(Soderling) always brings out something different every time he plays me because he has to try different things," Federer said. "I was able to handle it well, which was a very happy feeling for me to have."
Federer broke for a 5-3 lead in the second set, hitting a backhand passing shot that Soderling could only return into the net. The second-ranked Swiss then set up match point with a drop shot and converted it when Soderling hit his return into the net.
The two traded breaks once in the first set before Federer took control of the tiebreaker by earning a mini-break with a forehand winner after a long rally and followed it up with two straight aces for a 5-2 lead. He converted his second set point with a lunging one-handed backhand that Soderling let sail past him thinking it would be long, only to see it land in the far corner of the court.
"At first, I was pretty sure it was going out," Soderling said. "As soon as I let it go, I felt like this one is going much closer to the line than I expected. Of course, it went in. So, yeah, it was a little bit unlucky. But it's my fault."
Federer said he hit the shot under pressure but called it a "decent backhand."
"Unfortunate for him," Federer said. "But I should have maybe closed the set out earlier myself, too. But it would have been interesting to see what would have happened at 6-all, obviously."
Federer's victory meant Murray only had to win a set to clinch second place in the group. He took care of that in 31 minutes, recovering from going down 2-0 by playing nearly perfect tennis in winning the next seven games to take control of the match.
"To win against someone as tough as David with that scoreline, I must have played well," said Murray, who finished with a 2-1 record.
In last year's tournament, the Briton narrowly missed out on the semifinals after finishing with the same group record as Federer but with a lower percentage of games won.
"Last year was obviously tough for me," Murray said. "But this year, I think I've won two matches while against very good players. I'm glad I got through to the semis."
His only stumble came after breaking Ferrer for the fourth straight time to go up 1-0 in the second set. He was broken at love in the next game, shanking a forehand so badly on break point that the ball hit one of the big video boards hanging over the court.
But Ferrer seemed unable to muster up much energy knowing that he had already been eliminated and Murray broke twice more for a 5-2 lead. He sealed the victory with an easy forehand winner at the net on his first match point.
"Today, I had a lot of problems, physically, mentally," Ferrer said. "It's difficult (to) play with these guys. If I am not perfect, 100 per cent, it's impossible."
The other group features Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Tomas Berdych and Andy Roddick, with all four still in contention for the semifinals ahead of the last round of matches on Friday.
In the doubles competition, top-ranked Bob and Mike Bryan of the United States reached the semifinals by beating Lukas Dlouhy of the Czech Republic and Leander Paes of India 6-3, 6-4. They were joined by Polish duo Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski, who won Group A after beating Jurgen Melzer of Austria and Philipp Petzschner of Germany 6-3, 7-6 (7).
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