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Andy Murray becomes world number one

November 7, 2016

It's official - Britain's Andy Murray is the best male tennis player in the world.

The Scot was formally unveiled as number one when the ATP published its latest rankings this morning (November 7th), with the Scot becoming the 26th man - and first Briton - to hold top spot since the current system came into operation in 1973. 

To go top in the Paris Masters, Murray needed to win the tournament and for defending champion Novak Djokovic to fail to reach the final, or reach the final if Djokovic should fail to get to the last four. In the event, the latter prospect was opened up when Djokovic lost to Marin Cilic for the first time in 14 matches, leaving Murray needing to defeat Milos Raonic in the semi-final.

In the event, the actual moment of ascent was an anti-climax, a handshake in the locker room rather than over the net as Raonic, who had a slight calf tear, told Murray he couldn't play. 

However, Murray topped off his week in style - and extended his lead at the top right away - by defeating John Isner 6-3, 6-7, 6-4 to secure his eighth title of the year, his best annual total as well as the first time he has won the Paris Masters. He has now won seven of the nine Masters 1000 series titles over the course of his career.

In going top after years living in the shadows of Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, Murray has not only fulfilled a dream he admitted himself he never expected to achieve, but has the chance to make his stay a lengthy one.

At the age of 29, he may be the second oldest player to reach the top for the first time - Australian John Newcombe was 30 when he ascended to the summit in 1974 - but many fans booking corporate hospitality for The Championships, Wimbledon next summer will be hoping Murray can now enjoy an extended golden spell, including another title there. 

He will not be short of targets to motivate him, starting with next week's ATP World Tour Finals, a tournament he is yet to win. So too the Australian Open in the new year, having lost the final five times. Should that itch finally be scratched, there is the prospect of the career clean sweep of Grand Slams at the French Open, then the opportunity to match Fred Perry's trio of Wimbledon crowns and retain a Grand Slam title for the first time. 

While Federer and Nadal may be fading forces, however, there is always the danger of a revived Djokovic. If his motivation has diminished at all after completing his set of Grand Slams at Roland Garros, he now has a big target to aim at. Fitness worries notwithstanding, the Serb could regain top spot in London if he wins every match.

The line-up for the men's singles at the O2 was completed in Paris, with Murray and Djokovic being joined by US Open champion Stan Wawrinka, Raonic, Kei Nishikori, Gael Monfils, Marin Cilic and Dominic Thiem. 

Raonic may struggle to be fit after the injury that forced him to give Murray a walkover in Paris, something that would come as a huge disappointment to a player who illuminated Wimbledon on his last visit to London. If he misses out, Tomas Berdych will replace him.

By Keith Prowse

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