Tennis: Murray's focus on mastery in London

Finals the top priority while establishing new goals with an eye to winning Australian Open

Andy Murray after his 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 6-4 victory over John Isner in the final of the Paris Masters on Sunday. The five-time Australian Open finalist aims to win in Melbourne next year.
Andy Murray after his 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 6-4 victory over John Isner in the final of the Paris Masters on Sunday. The five-time Australian Open finalist aims to win in Melbourne next year.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS • The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) yesterday crowned Andy Murray king of the tennis world but the Scot must now plot how to stop Novak Djokovic grabbing back the No. 1 ranking at the Tour Finals.

The 29-year-old Murray - the oldest player to become No. 1 for the first time - won the Paris Masters on Sunday and immediately headed back to London to prepare for the Finals, which start on Sunday.

"It might only be for one week. So I might as well try and enjoy it because I could lose it at the Tour Finals and never be there again," said the Briton.

Murray, who beat American John Isner 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 6-4 in Paris for his eighth tournament win of the year and his fourth in a row, should be top for at least two weeks.

He is 405 points above Djokovic in the new rankings.

The Serb, who was No. 1 for 122 weeks before losing his Paris quarter-final, could return to the top again if he lands a fifth straight Tour Finals crown.

"I wasn't thinking so much about the cushion or anything like that at the top. I'm obviously happy I got there. It would be nice to finish the year No. 1, but I'm happy that I managed to get there," said Murray.

The Scot has struggled at the London Finals, exiting at the round-robin group stage twice after missing the 2013 event through injury.

"The last couple of years have been tough there for me. So, yeah, obviously I want to try and play my best tennis there," he said. "It's not necessarily about winning. I just want to play my best and finish the year on a good note."

With Roger Federer absent from the top 10 for the first time in 14 years, Rafael Nadal sidelined, and Djokovic short of his best, Murray will head into next season with lofty expectations.

"Obviously I'd love to win the Australian Open because it's sort of the next Major goal (at the) beginning of next year, because I have been close a number of times and I have never quite done it," he said.

But the five-time Melbourne finalist ruled out looking too far ahead, pointing to his own rapid rise as evidence of how quickly circumstances can change.

"I'll sit down with my team and basically look at what my schedule is going to be for the beginning of next year and set goals through to March probably, because I have found that I work better when I have had more short-term goals.

"So much can happen and change in a small space of time as I have found out a number of times during my career.

"No one would have expected what I have done the last few months... or after the French Open. So this was unexpected to me, as well. I didn't expect it."

Murray's Paris victory means the "Big Four" have now won 56 of the last 61 Masters events dating back to Monte Carlo in 2010, but the Scot's return of just three Grand Slam titles leaves him well short of his rivals.

Isner backed Murray to significantly add to that tally before his time is up.

"He's the guy that everyone is looking up to right now," said Isner. "Whether it's 2, 3, 4 in the world, everyone knows how hard he works and how dedicated he is."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 08, 2016, with the headline 'Murray's focus on mastery in London'. Subscribe