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LONDON — Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori tend to linger when they get together. Their latest matchup set a record.

Murray survived the longest three-set match in ATP Finals history when he prevailed against Nishikori 6-7 (9-11), 6-4, 6-4 Wednesday.

They needed 3 hours, 20 minutes to separate themselves. The first set took 85 minutes.

Murray, 2-0 in his group, can clinch a semifinal berth for the first time in four years with a win over U.S. Open champion Stan Wawrinka on Friday.

Wawrinka eliminated Marin Cilic from contention 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-3) in an almost two-hour match.

Losing to No. 5-ranked Nishikori would have hurt Murray's chances of holding off Novak Djokovic to keep the No. 1 ranking.

Murray relieved Djokovic of the top ranking last week, and Murray believed it would be a fitting end to the year to play the Serb for the ranking and ATP Finals title on Sunday in the final.

"For the tournament and stuff, for everyone interested in tennis, that would probably be the perfect way to finish the year," Murray said.

"For me and, I'm sure, for Novak, both of our goals would be to try to win the event. It doesn't change for us as players."


Klinsmann: 4-0 loss 'bitter' in qualifier

Looking a bit shocked, Jurgen Klinsmann called it a "bitter moment" four times in 14 minutes and also a "bitter pill to swallow" during his postmatch news conference Tuesday. He described the 4-0 wipeout in a World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica as "the defeat that hurts most" during his five-year tenure as U.S. coach. U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati expressed patience: "We don't make any decisions right after games. We'll think about what happened and talk with Jurgen and look at the situation." The Americans are 0-2 in the final round of World Cup qualifying for the first time after a 2-1 home loss to Mexico last week and its ninth straight defeat in a qualifier at Costa Rica. Given a rare chance to coach a national team for a second World Cup cycle, Klinsmann is under renewed scrutiny by critics who claim his reign has gone stale. "I obviously understand that when you lose two games, and especially two World Cup qualifiers right after each other, that there will be a lot of your comments," he said after the match. "That is just part of the job."

MORE SOCCER: Wayne Rooney apologized for "inappropriate" conduct after being pictured bleary-eyed at the team hotel. England's all-time top scorer was off-duty when the images were taken of him with wedding guests at a hotel Saturday. Interim manager Gareth Southgate insisted Rooney's absence from Tuesday's friendly against Spain was due to an injury sustained Friday against Scotland.

Times wires

Sports in brief 11/16/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 16, 2016 11:01pm]
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