Andy Murray has waited a long time to top the ATP rankings, striving as he has against three of the greatest tennis players the game has ever seen in current number one Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal, who between them have exerted a stranglehold on the coveted ranking stretching back to February 2004.
Murray 76 weeks as number two
In total, the Scot has spent 76 weeks as world number two, a position he first reached back in August 2009 and one he has occupied on seven different occasions. His longest spell at number two lasted 26 weeks, between November 2015 and May 2016, and Murray has been chasing down Djokovic for a total of 24 weeks this year, since May 16.
At this week’s Paris Masters, defending champion Djokovic can prolong Murray’s second stint as his rankings bridesmaid by reaching the final, which would make his position unassailable until the season-ending ATP Tour Finals in London from November 13-20.
Number one shot
However, Murray can claim the number one ranking in the City of Light if he wins the tournament and Djokovic is knocked out before the final, or if the Scot reaches the final and the Serb fails to make the last four. Just 415 points separate the pair going into the final Masters tournament of the season in the ATP Singles Race ranking as Murray seeks to bring Djokovic’s reign of 122 consecutive weeks dating back to July 7, 2014 to an end. Djokovic is also in doubles action in Paris-Bercy, partnering Nenad Zimonjic.
"It's in Novak's hands"
"It's not in my control. I can obviously try and win my matches, but even if I win all of my matches this week, I still might not get there," said Murray. "So it's in Novak's hands. He's ahead obviously just now, so if he wins his matches and gets to the latter stages of the last two tournaments, then he'll most likely keep the number one spot.”
ATP Tour finals
Murray can also end the year as number one at the ATP Finals, where as last year’s undefeated champion Djokovic will be defending 1,500 points as well as his title. At the season finale, a round robin win is worth 200 points, a semi-final victory 400 and the title 500, if the champion is beaten in one of the preliminary round contests.
Murray boasts a 69-9 win-loss record in 2016 to Djokovic’s 59-7, with the Serb suffering an early exit at Wimbledon and losing his US Open title to Stan Wawrinka.
Djokovic dominates in Paris
The two players contested the final in Paris last year, Djokovic beating Murray convincingly in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4 to retain the title he has won in three consecutive years and four times overall.
Murray’s bid to become world number one would make him the first British player to top the ranking since the ATP introduced the points system in 1973, and at 29 also the oldest player to claim top spot for a first time after Australian John Newcombe’s eight-week reign as world number one at the age of 30 in the summer of 1974.
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