Murray: Reaching No. 1 Is A Goal
Scot has No. 1 in his sights
At the start of the season, Novak Djokovic’s position atop the Emirates ATP Rankings appeared certain for at least another 12 months. The Serb defeated Andy Murray in the Australian Open final to further distance himself from the second-placed Scot and gathered pace in the spring with back-to-back Masters 1000 titles in Indian Wells and Miami.
But Murray came roaring back. Between the Mutua Madrid Open in May and the US Open, Murray compiled a 41-4 mark, winning the Rome title, finishing runner-up at Roland Garros, claiming his fifth Aegon Championships crown followed by a second Wimbledon, then later, a second Olympic gold medal in Rio de Janeiro.
It was a titanic stretch that saw Murray significantly close the gap on Djokovic and now, as the Scot heads up the China Open field in Beijing – where Djokovic is unable to defend his title due to an elbow injury – he is 2,055 points behind the Serb in the year-to-date standings as he prepares for the final push of the season.
“I think obviously trying to reach No. 1 is a goal,” said Murray, who saw his older brother, Jamie Murray, ascend to No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings earlier in the season. “I think most of the players that are near the top of the game would like that. I've never been there. It's something I would like to do for the first time, which is maybe more of a motivation for me than some of the guys that have been there before.
“I want to just try and finish this year strong from a personal point of view. It's been my best season to date, and I want to try to finish it as best as I can.”
The 29-year-old Murray is approaching this third appearance in Beijing with cautious expectations after a brief rest from the sport. After the disappointment of his US Open quarter-final loss to Kei Nishikori, followed by Great Britain’s defeat on home soil to Argentina in the Davis Cup semi-finals – during which Murray lost to Juan Martin del Potro in five sets – the Scot took a much needed break.
“What I needed after that stretch was a break,” said the Dunblane native, who arrived in Beijing on Sunday. “I needed some time away from the court to rest and recover, freshen up a bit, hopefully have a strong finish to the year.
“I think this week I need to be realistic with maybe how I'm going to play. There's no reason why I can't finish the year strong if I keep my body healthy, stay motivated, have a strong, strong finish to the year.
“I have very few days of practice coming in here. I'm not putting too much pressure on myself right now. I need to get a few good days of training in here, try and get used to the conditions. If I can get through my first match or so, I'll start to feel better, then reevaluate my chances of going far in the event.”
As top seed, Murray will open his campaign against Andreas Seppi, whom he has a 7-1 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against. Main draw play at this ATP World Tour 500 hard-court tournament begins on Monday.