Ten­nis: Now No. 1, Mur­ray goes to Lon­don vy­ing for Djokovic’s ATP Fi­nals ti­tle


PARIS— Hav­ing taken No­vak Djokovic’s No. 1 rank­ing and his Paris Masters ti­tle, Andy Mur­ray will try to grab an­other of his friend and ri­val’s crowns at the ATP fi­nals.

Mur­ray has never won the sea­so­nend­ing tour­na­ment, but heads to Lon­don full of con­fi­dence af­ter win­ning the Paris Masters on Sun­day.

“The last few years I haven’t played so well (at the ATP fi­nals),” Mur­ray said. “I do think play­ing in front of a home crowd helps. It makes a dif­fer­ence, so hope­fully I’ll be able to per­form a bit bet­ter this year.”

Mur­ray did not need home sup­port­ers in Paris, beat­ing big-serv­ing Amer­i­can John Is­ner 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-4. He has won his past four tour­na­ments and a ca­reer-high eight this year.

This win was chal­leng­ing — Is­ner missed six break­point chances — and it came the day af­ter Mur­ray en­sured he’d be­came world No. 1. The of­fi­cial rank­ings are pub­lished on Mon­day.

The 29-year-old Mur­ray has three Grand Slam ti­tles, two Olympic gold medals, a Davis Cup ti­tle and now — fi­nally — the top rank­ing for the first time.

“No one would have ex­pected what I have done the last few months,” Mur­ray said. “I don’t re­ally know if it’s sunk in or not.”

Three big ti­tles he has yet to win are still held by Djokovic: the ATP fi­nals, the Aus­tralian Open and the French Open.

Djokovic and Roger Fed­erer have won the fi­nals 11 times be­tween them since 2003, with Djokovic win­ning it for the past four years.

This year, Djokovic beat Mur­ray in Grand Slam fi­nals at the Aus­tralian Open in three sets and at Roland Gar­ros in four.

Mur­ray has been a run­ner-up eight times in ma­jors, with five of those in Aus­tralia.

“I’d love to win the Aus­tralian Open . . . It’s the next ma­jor goal, be­cause I have been close a num­ber of times,” Mur­ray said. “I have never quite done it.”

But he needs to fin­ish off 2016 first. Mur­ray will be the favourite when the fi­nals be­gin next Sun­day. He is the only Bri­tish player to hold the top spot since the rank­ings be­gan in 1973, and the old­est first-time No. 1 since John New­combe at 30 in 1974.

Mur­ray se­cured top spot af­ter Mi­los Raonic with­drew from their semi­fi­nal on Satur­day. That sent Mur­ray through to the fi­nal and, cou­pled with Djokovic’s quar­ter-fi­nal loss, en­sured enough points.

Mur­ray reached No. 2 for the first time more than seven years ago and his ca­reer has been all about chas­ing the stars of ten­nis.

Djokovic has 12 Grand Slam ti­tles, Rafael Nadal has 14 and Fed­erer is the all-time leader with 17.

“Put him in any other era, he prob­a­bly has more Grand Slams,” Is­ner said of Mur­ray.

Mur­ray has been play­ing those three his whole ca­reer — and also more re­cently world No. 3 Stan Wawrinka — and it shows in the statis­tics.

Djokovic, who is one week younger than Mur­ray, leads him 24-10; Nadal leads Mur­ray by 17-7; and Fed­erer’s up 14-11.

That, along with some back surgery, helps ex­plain why Mur­ray has won fewer ti­tles than his main ri­vals.

Sun­day’s win was his 43rd — of which 14 are Masters.

With Nadal strug­gling with in­juries and Fed­erer ag­ing, it could be Mur­ray’s time to shine.

“He’s at the top of the game right now,” Is­ner said, “and he’s go­ing to give him­self plenty more op­por­tu­nity to win these big tour­na­ments.”

Andy Mur­ray’s win at the Paris Masters was the 43rd of his ca­reer.

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