Murray to bide his time in world No. 1 bid

Red-hot Scot plays down his chances of dethroning top-ranked Djokovic in Paris

PARIS • Andy Murray believes he will probably have to wait until next year to reach tennis' world No. 1 spot at the expense of Novak Djokovic, as the two are on a final collision course at this week's Paris Masters.

The Briton will top the Association of Tennis Professionals world rankings if he wins the indoor tournament at the Bercy Arena and Djokovic does not reach the final, or if he makes it to the final and the Serb falters before the semi-finals.

"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," world No. 2 Murray told a news conference on Monday.

"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 No. 1 spot."

Murray has been in fine form, winning 15 straight Tour matches since his defeat by Japan's Kei Nishikori in the US Open quarter-finals.

The Scot won three tournaments in a row - the China Open, the Shanghai Masters and the Erste Bank Open in Vienna on Sunday.

HIS MAIN GOAL

I think there is a lot stronger chance of doing it in the early part of next year, which is what I targeted rather than this week.

ANDY MURRAY , the world No. 2, on the chances of displacing top-ranked Novak Djokovic.

"I don't feel any differently now to how I did kind of six, eight weeks ago. My goal wasn't to finish No. 1 at the end of this year," he said.

"I wanted to finish this year as strong as possible and I think there is a lot stronger chance of doing it in the early part of next year, which is what I targeted rather than this week."

The 29-year-old dismissed concerns over fatigue.

"This year I have been healthy the whole year, and the last four or five months I have played the best of my career," Murray said. "I feel fine. I had a break after Shanghai, which I needed, and didn't hit any balls until I arrived in Vienna. And then obviously I got the walkover (in the semi-finals against David Ferrer) on Saturday which helped, so it was pretty much a rest day.

"And then, yeah, the final (against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga) wasn't too long yesterday, either."

Murray owns an impressive 69-9 record this year and is just two wins shy of last year's win total, but he was swept aside convincingly by Djokovic in last year's Paris final.

The Serb admitted that Murray's late assault on his No. 1 ranking had rejuvenated his own faltering season as he looks to extend his 122-week stay at the top.

After completing a career Grand Slam at the French Open, Djokovic crashed out prematurely at Wimbledon and the Rio Olympics and was then beaten by Stan Wawrinka in the US Open final. He has fond memories in France, though, and will attempt to win a fourth consecutive Paris Masters crown.

"It makes me want to go on court and fight for every point because there is something to win at the end," said the 12-time Grand Slam winner.

World No. 3 Wawrinka, who has a potential semi-final clash against Djokovic in Paris, thinks the Serb remains a formidable opponent.

"Novak just lost three matches in three tournaments. People talk," the Swiss said. "But for the rest, he always won. We are saying Novak is in a crisis, but he's still No. 1 and, at worst, still finish No. 2, top two, so the crisis is okay, no?"

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 02, 2016, with the headline 'Murray to bide his time in world No. 1 bid'. Print Edition | Subscribe