Tennis: Murray admits it's nearly impossible for him to supplant Djokovic as world No. 1

Andy Murray of Great Britain hits a return against Gilles Simon of France during their men's singles semifinals match at the Shanghai Masters tennis tournament in Shanghai on Oct 15, 2016.
Andy Murray of Great Britain hits a return against Gilles Simon of France during their men's singles semifinals match at the Shanghai Masters tennis tournament in Shanghai on Oct 15, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

SHANGHAI (AFP) - Andy Murray on Saturday said reaching world No. 1 was unlikely this year as he set his sights on dethroning Novak Djokovic in the early part of next season.

The world No. 2, who beat Gilles Simon to reach the Shanghai Masters final as Djokovic crashed out, said he was running out of time to catch the Serb in 2016.

"My goal is not to try and reach No. 1 this year. I'd have to win pretty much every match between now and the end of the year. And Novak would have to win hardly any," Murray said.

"So it's not in my hands. I want to try and get there, but I don't think doing that by the end of this year is that realistic.

"So I just want to try and finish this year as strong as I can. Maybe give myself a chance at doing it the early part of next year."

Murray is gaining on Djokovic and his chase was given a boost when the defending champion slumped to a shock semi-final defeat by Roberto Bautista of Spain.

The 29-year-old Briton beat Simon 6-4, 6-3 and will target his third Shanghai Masters title in Sunday's final.