Murray recovers some form to keep semi-finals in sight
Roger Federer’s win against Kei Nishikori earlier in the day meant Murray knew he had to match that to avoid early elimination.
He did what was required, the 6-3 7-5 victory meaning all scenarios in Group B are still possible heading into the final round of matches tomorrow.
Murray could beat Federer and still go out depending on the score between Raonic and Nishikori, but equally a loss for Murray would not necessarily eliminate him.
The British No 1 said: “On Sunday (against Nishikori), there wasn’t much magic. (Yesterday) I came up with some good shots in the right moments. Milos didn’t serve as well as he can and that helped.
“It’s a nice match on Thursday to look forward to, it’ll be a great atmosphere again.
“It’s always a pleasure to play against Roger. He’s one of the greatest players that’s ever played so to get the opportunity to play him in an atmosphere like this is excellent.”
Murray knew he had to raise his game significantly from his poor performance against Nishikori if he wanted to beat a man he had lost to in three of their four previous meetings.
There was no doubt this was better, but Murray was significantly helped by Raonic having a major off day with his forehand, the Canadian making 23 unforced errors off his favoured wing alone.
Raonic is making his debut at the end-of-season showdown after sneaking in at the last minute with a run to the Paris Masters final last weekend.
Having started badly against Federer on Sunday, he improved markedly in the second set, but both his serve and forehand were wayward in the early stages against Murray.
The Scot had two looks at second serves on break points in the fourth game, but could not take either.
However, Raonic did the work for him two games later with a succession of errors to hand Murray a 4-2 lead.
He had gone up an early break against Nishikori only to give it straight back, but this time he held firm, and seeing Raonic save two set points did not faze him as he took the third.
The fifth seed was serving better and hitting the ball with a lot more conviction off the ground.
He looked to be on his way to the victory he needed when Raonic cracked from 40-0 to drop serve again in the third game of the second set, a shocking double fault and even worse forehand completing the game.
But Murray’s bad habit of giving service breaks straight back resurfaced to give the Canadian a much-needed lift.
And, worryingly for the Scot, Raonic had found his first serve while Murray’s had gone off the boil.
Twice he was broken serving at 4-5 against Nishikori, but this time there were no alarms, and a bit of Murray magic with a backhand pass he had no right to make set up a timely break to leave him serving for the match.
Although Raonic saved one match point, the Canadian overcooked a return on the second and is still looking for his first victory.
New experiences on a tennis court do not come along very often for Roger Federer these days.
The 33-year-old is bidding for a seventh title at the ATP World Tour Finals in London – six is already an outright record.
But instead of a finale to his season, as it has been every other time, Federer still has one huge title to chase.
Five days after the final at the O2, Switzerland will take on France in Lille in the Davis Cup final. The Swiss have never won the competition, with their closest shave coming in a final defeat by the United States in 1992.
Federer had played sparingly in Davis Cup in recent years but, with team-mate Stan Wawrinka in the form of his life and other top players choosing to skip ties, 2014 suddenly became a golden opportunity.
They saw off a Serbian side missing Novak Djokovic in the first round, recovered from 2-1 behind to defeat Kazakhstan in the quarter-finals and beat Italy in the last four.
The final, which will be played at Lille’s football stadium in front of what is expected to be a record crowd of more than 27,000, pits the Swiss stars against France’s strength in depth.
Home captain Arnaud Clement is yet to name his side but has taken Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet, Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon to a training camp in Bordeaux, with Julien Benneteau also in contention.
None of France’s players qualified for the World Tour Finals, which could turn out to be in their favour given the extra preparation time.