Tennis: Murray leaps into history No.1 spot

Andy Murray hitting a backhand against John Isner during his 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 6-4 victory in the final of the Paris Masters yesterday. Having won Wimbledon for the second time and a second Olympic gold medal, he is the first British world No. 1 since
Andy Murray hitting a backhand against John Isner during his 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 6-4 victory in the final of the Paris Masters yesterday. Having won Wimbledon for the second time and a second Olympic gold medal, he is the first British world No. 1 since computerised rankings were introduced in 1973.PHOTO: REUTERS

Briton emulates fellow Grand Slam champs Federer, Nadal and Djokovic in reaching No. 1

PARIS • Tennis' newly-minted world No. 1 Andy Murray has admitted that rising to the top of the rankings during a golden era in men's tennis made his achievement even more satisfying.

The 29-year-old will supplant long-time rival Novak Djokovic when the latest ATP rankings are released today after winning the Paris Masters yesterday.

The Scot received a walkover into the final after Milos Raonic was struck down by a leg injury sustained in his quarter-final against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

After his 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 6-4 victory against big-serving American John Isner in the final, he will end Djokovic's reign and become just the fourth player to top the rankings since 2004.

The Scot follows in the footsteps of record 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic - all of whom have completed a career Grand Slam - in ascending to No. 1.

"I think that's the most satisfying thing, really. It's been such a difficult thing to do during my career because of how good the guys around me have been, the guys ahead of me," said Murray. "I have had to win so many matches and get to the latter stage of pretty much every tournament that I have played. It's just been really, really hard to do it, been really difficult.

"Obviously they are three of the best players that have ever played the game and had some of the years that they have had in that period, as well, have been ridiculous, really, like three slams and double slams and many Masters Series, as well.

"So, you know, it's taken a great year to get there."

Women's tennis legend Martina Navratilova believes that Murray's achievement is exceptional.

"Since Roger Federer became No. 1 it's been him, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic at the top of the rankings," Navratilova told BBC Radio. "It's some pretty rarefied air to get into as it has been a pretty exclusive club for some time.

"To get to No. 1 is an exceptional thing, it's an amazing accomplishment. The fact it came this late in his playing career shows how determined and focused he is."

Navratilova, who spent 332 weeks atop the women's standings and accrued 18 Grand Slam singles titles, said Murray had shown real character to battle his way to the top ranking.

"To keep going and going and thinking (that he can continue to) improve is testament to his character," the 60-year-old said.

Murray's predecessor as British No. 1 Tim Henman - who was ranked a career-high fourth in the world on three occasions from 2002 to 2004 - believes the Scot can stay at the top for a while to come.

"I don't think Andy was ever going to settle for second best," Henman told BBC Radio. "Now he's reached No. 1, I don't think for any moment in time he's going to take his foot off the gas.

"If Andy stays fit and healthy, I can see him being the dominant force going forward."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 07, 2016, with the headline 'Murray's top spot extra special'. Print Edition | Subscribe