Murray targets ‘strong’ year-end to topple Djokovic
BEIJING: Andy Murray took Novak Djokovic’s China Open crown at the weekend, but that’s not all that the Scot is after as he closes in on the Serb’s number one ranking.
The second-ranked Scot is looking to close the points gap to Djokovic and cap a career-best season by topping the rankings for the first time.
Murray made a convincing start to that campaign in Beijing, storming through the tournament without dropping a set.
He beat Grigor Dimitrov to claim his fifth title of the year, and take him 1,000 points closer to Djokovic’s long-held number one spot.
“It’s very positive leading into Shanghai, and hopefully I can finish the year strong,” Murray said in Beijing.
Djokovic wasn’t in the Chinese capital to defend his China Open crown, having pulled out with an elbow injury, but both are playing at this week’s Shanghai Masters.
The Serb also won in Shanghai last year — another trophy in what was one of the best seasons in tennis history — and so now has to defend those ranking points whereas Murray only has points to bank to further reduce the 3,005-point gap to Djokovic.
In a year that also saw him become a father for the first time, Murray bagged both his second Wimbledon crowns and Olympic gold medals.
He also reached the final of the Australian and French Opens, but missed out on a second consecutive Davis Cup win when Great Britain lost to Argentina in the semi-finals.
As Murray aims to become the first British man to reach number one, he is already writing history with Johanna Konta.
The 25-year-old Sydney-born Briton broke into the top 10 with her run to the final at her maiden appearance at the China Open — the first British woman since Jo Durie in 1984 to achieve that feat.
It is also the first time since computerised rankings were introduced that a British man and woman are ranked in the top 10 at the same time.
Konta is now in Hong Kong to try to cap a stunning rise over the last 15 months from 146th to ninth with her first appearance at the WTA Finals in Singapore, which features the season’s top eight players.
“She finished last year extremely well and kind of showed that she had the potential to get there with the wins that she was having.
“But it’s not easy to do it over a 12-month period,” Murray said of Konta.
“It’s exciting to see kind of how far she’s going to be able to go.”