Murray One Match Away From No. 1
Murray will face Raonic in the SFs
Andy Murray continued his dominance against Tomas Berdych on Friday at the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris and is now one match away from reaching World No. 1. The Scot toughed out a 7-6(9), 7-5 win over Berdych, who can no longer qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
If Murray wins his semi-final match on Saturday against Milos Raonic, he'll become No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time in his career.
The Briton has spent 76 weeks at the No. 2 spot, and the 29-year-old Murray is looking to become the second-oldest player (John Newcombe, 30, in 1974) to debut at No. 1. It has been a long wait for the Scot. Should he reach No. 1, he'll own the ATP World Tour record for most time between becoming No. 2 and No. 1, having debuted at No. 2 on 17 August, 2009.
“Getting to No. 1, like I said, is 12 months of work. Consistency. I have never done that before. In my career, I have had periods where I have been consistent for a few months at a time and then drop-offs. Whereas, this year, barring the month in March, I can't have done much better than I had done,” Murray said. “I have put myself in a position to do something that takes a lot of consistency, a lot of concentration for a long period of time. I'm happy about that.”
The Brit was nearly untouchable on his serve against Berdych. He didn't face a break point until he served for the match at 5-4 in the second set. Murray was broken but broke right back and held to advance. For the match, the Scot won almost 75 per cent of his service points.
Berdych's level was so high initially, though, that the Czech nearly led by a set. With a free-swinging forehand, the seventh seed led the first-set tie-break 6-1 but couldn't capitalise on any of his seven set points. Murray improved to 10-6 against Berdych in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series and has won their past six match-ups.
With the loss, Berdych is also eliminated from London contention. He needed to at least reach the Paris semi-finals to have a chance to qualify for the year-end championships, to be held 13-20 November at The O2 in London.
Raonic beat local favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-2, 7-6(4). The Canadian saved both break points faced to knock out the Frenchman, who had an outside shot to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Tsonga’s elimination paved the way for Dominic Thiem to qualify for London for the first time.
Raonic got off to the quick start, breaking Tsonga in the opening game and again in the fifth game to run away with the first set. Tsonga made a comeback bid in the second set, but Raonic held firm and secured the win on his first match point.
Murray leads 8-3 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry with Raonic and has won their past seven meetings. “If it doesn't happen tomorrow, it can still happen in a few months, which is when I thought I'd have a better chance of doing it,” Murray said of reaching No. 1. “But obviously I'd love to do it tomorrow if I can.”