Now No. 1, Andy Mur­ray goes to Lon­don vy­ing for Djokovic’s ti­tle

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

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 sea­son-end­ing 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 break-point chances and it came the day af­ter Mur­ray en­sured he be­came world No. 1.

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 quar­ter­fi­nal 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 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 177; 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.

Im­pres­sive enough, but way be­hind the other three.

Federer, six years older than Mur­ray, has 88 ti­tles (24 in Masters), Nadal has 69 (28 in Masters) and Djokovic 66 (a record 30 in Masters).

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

Mur­ray grouped with Wawrinka, Nishikori, Cilic at ATP Fi­nals

Andy Mur­ray, the world's new top-ranked men's player, has been drawn in a group with Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori and Maric Cilic for the ATP fi­nals.

For­mer No. 1 No­vak Djokovic was drawn Mon­day with Mi­los Raonic, Gael Mon­fils and Do­minic Thiem for the year-end tour­na­ment start­ing Sun­day at the O2 Arena in Lon­don.

Mur­ray, who of­fi­cially took over the No. 1 rank­ing for the first time on Mon­day, has never won the ATP fi­nals.

Djokovic, who has won the tour­na­ment the past four years, could re­claim the No. 1 spot if he de­fends his ti­tle.

Djokovic will open play on Sun­day against ninth-ranked Thiem, fol­lowed by No. 4 Raonic vs. No. 6 Mon­fils. On Mon­day, No. 3 Wawrinka will face No. 5 Nishikori, with Mur­ray play­ing No. 7 Cilic in the night match.

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