World Tour Finals: Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal victorious in openers

    Story highlights

    • Andy Murray beats David Ferrer at World Tour Finals
    • Murray wins 6-4 6-4 at year-end championships
    • Rafael Nadal crushes Stan Wawrinka 6-3 6-2 later Monday
    • Novak Djokovic plays Roger Federer Tuesday

    (CNN)Andy Murray began his opening match at the World Tour Finals with a thumping ace down the middle. The rest of the first game against David Ferrer settled into a slugfest, setting the tone for Monday's clash in Group Ilie Nastase.

    Just as he did at the Paris Masters nine days ago, Murray defeated the Spaniard, this time by a score of 6-4 6-4 at the O2 Arena in London. But later Monday, Stan Wawrinka couldn't replicate his win over Rafael Nadal in the French capital, crushed by Ferrer's countryman 6-3 6-2.
      Although he is bidding to win the year-end championships for the first time -- he has not yet reached the final -- Murray is preoccupied by what comes after the tournament, the Davis Cup final.
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      Great Britain travels to Belgium on November 27, one victory away from claiming a first title in the elite men's team competition since 1936, and if the visitors are to prevail, the 28-year-old needs to be ready physically. He will probably feature on all three days of the best-of-five match series on clay.
      So beating the ever tenacious Ferrer in straight sets in 1½ hours on the indoor hard court was especially good for the Scot. He was keen to avoid the type of marathon encounter he endured against Ferrer in the Miami final in 2013 -- that match, in oppressive heat, lasted nearly three hours -- or in last year's Vienna final, where he battled back from a set down.
      And only last week, Murray practiced on clay, mindful of the upcoming tie in Ghent.
      "It's a different surface here, but playing matches against the best players in the world is also fantastic preparation" for the Davis Cup final, Murray told reporters. "I changed my schedule and the way I've trained over the last two months ... to make sure I am fresh for this part of the season, which hasn't always been the case.
      "I've only played two tournaments in the last six or seven weeks. I feel good just now. Hopefully I can perform well here and in Belgium."
      Murray is one win away from finishing the season at No. 2, which would be a first, behind dominant No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
      It would be a reward for what he has called his most consistent year, making the Australian Open final and semifinals at the French Open and Wimbledon -- although, ever the perfectionist, Murray likely feels he could have forced the issue more against Roger Federer at the All England Club.
      Murray was broken to end every set in his 7-5 7-5 6-4 defeat in July, and Ferrer suffered the same fate Monday, cracking on serve to conclude both sets.
      Unusually for Ferrer, who many would argue has overachieved in his career, he was let down by double faults. He struck eight in total without hitting an ace.
      Besides his ace in the first game, Murray added three more, without contributing a double fault.
      "I served bad the end of the first set and also in the second set," Ferrer told reporters, adding that serving well against fellow top-10 players is pivotal.
      "Anyway, in important moments he was better than me. He played more aggressive than me."
      Federer said after brushing aside Tomas Berdych on Sunday that the court was playing slow. There was nothing to suggest otherwise a day later, and both Murray and Ferrer sought to shorten points by coming to the net. There were also more than a few drop shots.
      The combination brought relief for those not enamored with incessant baseline rallies.
      The match might have been different had the 2007 runner-up -- now a loser in seven of his last eight matches against Murray -- converted a break point in the opening game. Attempting to force the issue or hit a clean winner, he missed a forehand long.
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      Murray -- watched by pregnant wife Kim Sears -- squandered his own break chances, particularly in the eighth game, but then recovered in the 10th.
      He was immediately broken to love to begin the second set, although he broke back for 3-3 when he forced Ferrer into a forehand error following a lengthy rally.
      Murray raised his arm and clenched his fist, roared on by a partisan crowd. Predictably, he duly sealed the contest moments later, officially putting away Ferrer with a gentle overhead.
      He awaits Nadal on Wednesday.
      Revenge for Rafa
      When Nadal and Wawrinka squared off in Paris, the Swiss triumphed in a 7-6 (10-8) 7-6 (9-7) thriller to quell the 14-time grand slam champion's recent momentum. Nadal failed to convert set points in both sets.
      On Monday, they traded breaks early before Nadal took charge -- thanks in no small part to Wawrinka's unforced errors. Overall he made 35 -- or an average of more than two per game.
      Still, he almost turned things around in the second set.
      Under pressure to begin the set, Wawrinka somehow fended off seven break points. In the ensuing game, he manufactured a break chance of his own and was close to taking a 2-0 lead after getting down low to volley a dipping Nadal forehand passing shot. But Nadal raced to the ball and engineered a sumptuous forehand cross-court lob to escape, leaping in the air to celebrate.
      He broke in the next game thanks to a double fault and the contest was realistically over.
      "It was a very important point for me, because saving that tough moment I was able to be back," Nadal, absent from last year's event in the aftermath of appendix surgery, told Sky. "And finally I had the break in the next game."
      Djokovic, who routed Kei Nishikori on Sunday, and Federer tangle in Tuesday's standout match. Djokovic beat Federer in both the Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals this year, despite the crowd firmly rooting for the Swiss.