Murray cel­e­brates rise to the top with Paris Mas­ters ti­tle

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Cel­e­brat­ing the best sea­son of his ca­reer, Andy Murray ce­mented his rise to No. 1 by beat­ing John Is­ner 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-4 yes­ter­day to win the Paris Mas­ters for the first time.

It was his eighth ti­tle this year, his 14th in Mas­ters over­all. It also ended Is­ner's bid for a first Mas­ters ti­tle.

Murray will of­fi­cially re­place No­vak Djokovic at the top of the rank­ings when they are pub­lished to­day.

The 29-year-old Murray is still get­ting ac­cus­tomed to his new­found sta­tus.

Espe­cially in the num­ber of con­grat­u­la­tory mes­sages.

Murray re­cently beat Is­ner 6-1, 6-3 in the quar­ter­fi­nals of the Erste Bank Open in Vi­enna, but this was thor­oughly con­tested.

Us­ing 18 aces and hit­ting plenty of in­side-out win­ners on his mas­sive fore­hand, Is­ner gen­er­ated con­sid­er­able pres­sure.

But he also wasted six break points over­all.

In the sec­ond set, he was 4-3 ahead and 40-0 up on Murray's serve, but failed to pun­ish the Bri­ton — last year's run­ner-up to Djokovic.

But in a rare dip, Murray dou­ble-faulted dur­ing the tiebreaker and Is­ner prof­ited to take the set.

Is­ner saved break points on his first two ser­vice games of the third set, hang­ing on as Murray re­stored his su­pe­ri­or­ity.

Then, serv­ing to stay in the match, the 2.08-me­ter (6-foot-10inch) Amer­i­can dou­ble-faulted to trail 0-30. He won a tough first point and then hit yet an­other ace to make it 30-30.

Is­ner sank a dif­fi­cult vol­ley into the net, giv­ing Murray a first match point. With Is­ner on sec­ond serve, Murray dom­i­nated a brief rally, ping­ing a pass down the line that Is­ner pat­ted into the net with the ball close to his body.

It was a hard-fought vic­tory and Is­ner stood with his head down at the net, wait­ing to con­grat­u­late Murray.

Murray has won four con­sec­u­tive tour­na­ments, tak­ing his ca­reer tally to 43.

Next up is the sea­son-end­ing ATP fi­nals in Lon­don, be­gin­ning next Sunday.

Murray will cross the English Chan­nel to try and take the ti­tle there, hav­ing se­cured his top rank­ing here.

The 31-year-old Is­ner, play­ing in the third Mas­ters fi­nal of his ca­reer, ends the year with­out a ti­tle.

He lost his other fi­nal this sea­son to Aus­tralian Nick Kyr­gios at At­lanta, Ge­or­gia, in Au­gust.

Some small con­so­la­tion is that he fin­ishes the year with the most aces at 1,159 — the fourth time he has achieved this.

Murray broke Is­ner twice, the first time to move 4-2 up in the first set.

Is­ner fought back, a boom­ing fore­hand win­ner giv­ing him two break points in the seventh game.

Murray saved the first one with a lob — im­pres­sive against such a tall player — and vol­ley. He res­cued the sec­ond by forc­ing an un­forced er­ror.

Serv­ing for the first set, Murray won the first point with an ex­tra­or­di­nary back­hand re­trieve from a speedy Is­ner fore­hand that he some­how turned into a cross-court win­ner.

In the sec­ond set, Is­ner got a de­served ova­tion in the eighth game when he won a 20-stroke rally.

Show­ing nim­ble foot­work that be­lied his size, he traded shots with Murray, win­ning the point with a su­perb drop shot and then a fore­hand win­ner from Murray's re­trieve.

Is­ner was play­ing his best ten­nis of the match and had Murray 0-40 down.

Murray re­cov­ered but gave Is­ner an­other chance at deuce.

He missed that chance, too.

Kvi­tova beats Svi­tolina to win Elite Tro­phy tour­na­ment

Third-seeded Pe­tra Kvi­tova of the Czech Repub­lic over­came a slow start to beat Elina Svi­tolina 6-4, 6-2 yes­ter­day and win the Elite Tro­phy.

After los­ing her open­ing three ser­vice games, Kvi­tova won five straight games to take the open­ing set.

Kvi­tova car­ried the mo­men­tum into the sec­ond and dis­patched the fourth-seeded Ukrainian in 1 hour, 10 min­utes to claim her 19th ca­reer ti­tle.

“I played her in Wuhan and I was a break down there as well from the be­gin­ning of the match,” Kvi­tova said. “I just prob­a­bly knew that it's still not the end, so I was just try­ing to play point by point. That was kind of the style of the match.”

The re­sult com­pleted a dom­i­nant week for Kvi­tova, who dropped just 18 games in her four matches.

Kvi­tova has reached six fi­nals in the WTA's Asian swing, win­ning in Wuhan and Zhuhai.

The tour­na­ment in Zhuhai fea­tured the 12 play­ers on the tour who didn't qual­ify for the WTA Fi­nals in Singapore last week.

Pe­tra Kvi­tova with her tro­phy yes­ter­day

Andy Murray with his tro­phy yes­ter­day

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