VIENNA/PARIS, October 31, 2016
Since becoming the World No. 2 on August 17, 2009, Andy Murray has trailed only one other player in the Emirates ATP Rankings for a total of 76 weeks. During 72 of those 76 weeks, the World No. 1 has been Novak Djokovic.
One week younger than Murray, Djokovic has battled the Brit on the biggest stages in tennis, including the finals of all four Grand Slams and seven of the nine ATP Masters 1000 events. Djokovic has dominated the rivalry, winning 13 of his last 15 meetings with Murray to maintain his lead in the rankings. But after sweeping his 15th straight match of the fall on Sunday in Vienna, and tying Djokovic with his seventh title of the season, Murray is in position to end his seven-year wait and rise to No. 1 this week at the BNP Paribas Masters in Pars Bercy.
“From two to one seems like a small jump in a way but it is the hardest one to make,” Murray told after his triumph in Vienna on Sunday. “To go from 100 to 50 is more spots but it is much easier. Getting number one, takes a whole season’s work, consistency and wins against the best players. I am getting closer to it and that’s positive at this stage of my career.”
To get to the top of the ranings, Murray needs to reach the Paris final for the second straight year with Djokovic losing before the semi-finals. Murray can also pass the Serbian superstar by winning the Paris final over any opponent other than Djokovic. It won’t be easy: Djokovic is a four-time BNP Paribas Masters champion with three titles and 15 consecutive wins over the last three years. He defeated Murray in straight sets en route to the 2014 and 2015 Paris titles.
“I would expect Novak to reach the final and not to lose in forehand,” Murray said. “He has done extremely well there (in Paris) in the past. He is excellent with the indoor conditions. If I keep playing like this (in Vienna), I will have my chance to get to a lot of stages again. That’s what I can control.”
While Djokovic and Murray have secured their spots at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, two vacancies in both singles and doubles will be filled this week at the AccorHotels Arena. Dominic Thiem and Basel champion Marin Cilic are the favorites in singles, but five other players are in contention: Tomas Berdych, David Goffin, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Roberto Bautista Agut and Lucas Pouille. Cilic could meet Goffin and Berdych could meet Bautista Agut in the third round. Thiem, Goffin, Bautista Agut and Pouille are trying to qualify for their first year-end championships.
That appearing at the season finale is something special, Murray pointed out on Sunday:
“From the beginning you have to play against the best players in the world, which is not the case anywhere else. Normally you have a few matches before competing with the top guys. You need to be ready right from the start. On the other hand with the round robin you can afford to lose a match and still go through. That’s also a strange feeling. When we lose at one venue, we normally go home and do not get a chance to play again. Sometimes the mentality can be hard when you lose your first match or even your second match, coming out two days later. But you obviously want to enjoy it, as participating is kind of the reward for a fantastic season.”