Recently, Andy Murray emerged victorious in the Paribas Masters, simultaneously winning his 8th title of 2016 in the process. Yet, perhaps this victory is Murray’s most poignant, as his win in France seemed to be the catalyst in him obtaining the number one ranking; the 1000 points he earned from the tournament elevated him above long-term rival Novak Djokovic. His ranking seems justified as, whilst Djokovic has won 7 titles in 2016, Murray has recorded 8 wins, and this, coupled with his higher win percentage, seemed to contribute to his elevation to the pinnacle of his sport. With one final tournament still left to compete for Murray, he may be looking to win his 9th trophy of 2016 and, in the process, secure his new ranking.
Murray headed into the tournament as the number two seed, yet possessed the knowledge he might be able to reach the number one ranking if he won the tournament, and Djokovic, the top seed, only reached the semi-finals. As such, he seemed to play at a high standard, winning his opening match with Fernando Verdasco in four sets, before emerging victorious versus seeded players Lucas Poille and Thomas Berdych. His counterpart, and rival for the number one ranking, Novak Djokovic, also recorded wins in his opening two matches, including one in straight sets yet, whilst Murray advanced past the quarter-final stage, the Serbian’s quest for the title was halted by Marin Cilic; the Croat emerging victorious in straight sets 6-4, 7-6.
As a result, Murray entered his semi-final seemingly shrouded with expectation; with the understanding a win would elevate his ranking from number two, he faced his Canadian training partner Milos Raonic, a player he had already beaten in both the Wimbledon and Queens finals. Alas, his opponent withdrew through injury, yet Murray ensured he finished the tournament with a flourish as victory over American John Isner saw him take home the trophy. As such, Murray claimed the top ranking by 425 points, simultaneously ensuring Djokovic, who held the number one spot for 122 weeks, dropped to second for the first time since July 2014.
With victory in Paris, Murray ensured he became the first British male to obtain the number one ranking, and is only the 26th male in history to do so. As such, it seems Britain possesses a talisman capable of competing at the top of the sport, and Murray’s 2016 may seem to support this suggestion; he has contested 12 major tournament finals, and has emerged victorious in 8 of these. Most notably perhaps, are his Grand Slam performances from this year: a finalist in Australia and France, he went on to won Wimbledon for the second time, before adding a consecutive Olympic board to his array of titles. Overall, the Brit was victorious in 73 matches this year, a personal record and, with the ATP Tour World Finals, the pinnacle, and finale, of the calendar year for individual competitors upcoming, Murray may elevate the aforementioned statistic higher, and end the year with a win percentage above his current 89.02%.
Murray holds the number one seeding heading into the ATP World Tour Finals yet, if Djokovic emerges victorious in London, the Serb may be elevated back to top spot. As such, Murray’s achievement may increase the pressure surrounding him as, whilst he has seemingly performed at a consistently high standard throughout 2016, he now faces a challenge to reinforce his number one ranking, perhaps one he may relish. Considering he has already surpassed multiple personal records this year, and has amassed an array of trophies, both individually and as part of the Great Britain team, it seems Murray possesses the ability to maintain his ranking, and doing so may result in the Scot being regarded amongst the elite of male tennis players. His achievement seems revolutionary, and it may motivate other tennis players to replicate his seemingly meteoric rise; he may even become the focal point of British sport, perhaps leading him to gain further personal recognition, and a consecutive Sport’s Personality of the Year award.
How may Andy Murray motivate other British players in the top 100 to replicate his achievements?