Murray faces challenge in holding on to top spot

Andy Murray

Andy Murray” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Carine06

Andy Murray made history by becoming the first British singles player to reach the summit of the world rankings. The 29-year-old needed to reach the final of the Paris Masters to oust Novak Djokovic from the top spot and as a result of Milos Raonic’s withdrawal from their last-four clash the Brit claimed his place as world number one.

Murray has been in outstanding form all season, reaching the final of three Grand Slams and the Olympics, winning Wimbledon and the Gold Medal for the second time in his career. He enjoyed an extremely consistent campaign on the ATP Tour, which has coincided with the first major slump in Djokovic’s form since he took the number one mantle from Roger Federer in 2014.

The Scot now sits ahead of his great rival on top of the world, and will be desperate to end his campaign with another title win in the ATP World Tour Finals at the 02 Arena. Murray is backed in the latest tennis odds at 5/4 to triumph in the competition for the first time in London.

It would be extremely hard not to see the 29-year-old clinch his ninth tour title of the year considering his recent form. Since suffering back-to-back defeats at the hands of Kei Nishikori in the quarter-finals of the US Open and his clash against Juan Martin del Potro in Great Britain’s Davis Cup semi-final loss against Argentina, Murray has reeled off 21 wins on the bounce.

Fatigue played a huge issue in those defeats for the Brit as the volume of matches over the summer in his surge towards success at Wimbledon and the Olympics appeared to take their toll on him, with Murray making rare mistakes in both matches. Since then he has been flawless, especially towards the end of tournaments where he has brushed aside Grigor Dimitrov, Roberto Bautista-Agut, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and John Isner in his four finals since Rio.

His biggest issues have been in the opening rounds of the tournaments as Martin Klizan and Fernando Verdasco both took the 29-year-old into a third set. Tomas Berdych almost put Murray under immense pressure in his quest for number one in Paris by earning five set points, only for the Brit to fend off his charge and claim victory in two sets.

Andy Murray

Andy Murray” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Carine06

Murray has come through all the challenges put before him to claim top spot, but will have to at least match Djokovic’s performance at the Finals to ensure that he begins 2017 in first place. However, he will have to overcome players that have boasted success against him in their recent contests, none more so than the US Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka. The Swiss has beaten Murray in three of their last four matches, although the Brit did beat him in the semi-finals of the French Open earlier this year.

Murray will know the dangers of facing Nishikori, having seen his US Open hopes dashed in a five-set thriller against the Japanese, while big-serving Marin Cilic recently beat Djokovic in Paris and his power is always a threat especially on hard surfaces. The Brit’s form should mean he is able to fend off all challengers on home soil and ensure that he begins the next calendar year on top of the sport.

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