SHANGHAI • Andy Murray demolished Roberto Bautista to win tennis' Shanghai Masters without dropping a set as he edged closer to Novak Djokovic's world No. 1 ranking yesterday.
The Wimbledon and Olympic champion won seven points in a row in the first-set tie-break and he broke Bautista three times in the second to win his third Shanghai title 7-6 (7-1), 6-1.
The Briton is now on a 10-match winning streak in which he has won 20 straight sets, including last week's similarly impressive victory at the China Open in Beijing.
But, most importantly, the world No. 2 slashed the gap to just 915 points from the out-of-sorts Djokovic, who was shocked by Spain's Bautista in Saturday's semi-finals.
"I believe I can get there. I definitely believe I can get there. These last few months have proved that to me," Murray said of the top ranking. "I may never get another chance to be No. 1, so I'll give it my best shot to do that while I have the opportunity."
Nineteenth-ranked Bautista, who was playing his first Masters final, said it was clear how much Murray wanted to secure the top spot.
STEPPING UP ANOTHER GEAR
I think I can see it in his eyes. He's really focused on getting the No. 1 (ranking).
ROBERTO BAUTISTA, on the visible signs of Murray's determination to become the world's top-ranked male player as Novak Djokovic looks increasingly vulnerable.
"I think I can see it in his eyes. He's really focused on getting the No. 1 (ranking)," the Spaniard said.
Murray's first serve of the match was a thumping ace and he took a grip on the opening set at 3-3 when Bautista netted a backhand to lose the first break point of the match.
But the Scot, serving at 5-4, lost three set points and got in a tangle on a drop shot to hand Bautista his first break point, which he converted with a strong forehand.
The Briton slammed three consecutive aces for 6-6 and he dominated the tie-break, reeling off seven points in a row and taking the set with a sizzling backhand return.
A string of Bautista errors put Murray a break up at the start of the second set, but to his obvious frustration he gave it straight back with a miscued forehand.
Bautista then double-faulted twice to go a break down before handing over yet another break, making victory a formality for Murray, who tucked away his first championship point.
With his 41st tournament victory and sixth this year, Murray joins Stefan Edberg in joint-15th place on the list of Open-era title winners.
Of greater concern will be his place in the rankings as he draws ever closer to the imploding Djokovic, who has hit a rocky patch after a period of sustained dominance.
"I will try and finish this year as strong as I can. And next year if the opportunity is there to reach No. 1, then I want to try and take it," Murray said.
"But it's not going to be easy because Novak plays great tennis indoors, and also his record at the beginning of the year is phenomenal in Australia and Indian Wells, Miami.
"It's going to be a tough thing to achieve that. I'm aware of that. I'm close-ish right now, but it's going to be really tough still."
Djokovic has suddenly and mystifyingly lost his way after winning six of his 12 Grand Slam titles in a stunning two-year period.
But he warned: "It's not yet over. There are a couple of big tournaments still along the way - Paris and London. I'll try to get ready for the indoor season where I always, in the last couple of years, played pretty well. I'll try to get better."