World No. 2 Andy Murray, who is currently playing at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna, Austria, has moved closer to the World No. 1 spot after progressing to the finals at the event courtesy a walkover by Spaniard David Ferrer, whom Murray had been due to face in the semi-finals. Incidentally, Ferrer was the defending champion here in Vienna.
The 31-year-old Spaniard has been struggling with a leg injury, one that had plagued him seriously in his own quarter-final win against Viktor Troicki. He told reporters after the event, “"It was impossible. I am disappointed but I have to be positive and will be ready for next season."
Murray is now set to play French ace Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who beat Ivo Karlovic in the semi-finals after the Croat had been leading him for a significant portion of the beginning of the match; Karlovic had been up a set and leading Tsonga 4-2 in the second before the Frenchman came back for a win.
Former Australian Open finalist Tsonga has not had an ideal 2016 season, but reached the quarter-finals of the US Open earlier in the year, withdrawing with injury during his match against eventual runner-up Novak Djokovic. The Erste Bank Open will mark Tsonga’s first final of 2016.
Murray will be the first British No 1 in the Open Era should he be able to take the ranking; the last Briton on the top of the rankings was Fred Perry, who played before ‘official’ records of Tennis wins.
The Scot will also be the oldest first-time No. 1 at 29-years-old since Australian ace John Newcombe climbed to the top of the rankings at 30-years-old in 1974.
One would likely give tonight’s win to Andy Murray - the Scot has won 13 of the 15 matches that have been played between the pair, the most recent of those wins at Wimbledon earlier this year.
Djokovic’s top rank under threat
A win in Vienna will give Murray 500 points – closing his gap to Djokovic to only 415 points. This means that Djokovic, who is on break this week and will not play until the Paris Masters, before the World Tour Finals, will need Murray to not reach the finals.
If he does, the Serb will need to defend his points from 2015 successfully, to keep the World No.1 ranking – or it will be Andy Murray who finishes 2016 as the Year-end World No. 1.
Murray has been the undisputedly most consistent player this year, and unlike a number of players on the tour this year – including the top-ranked Novak Djokovic, has not struggled with injury or patchy performances. Self-admittedly in the ‘form of (my) life,’ Murray has made significant changes this year to his career, bringing Czech ace Ivan Lendl back onto his coaching team after parting ways with French ace Amelie Mauresmo, with whom it is argued Murray experienced his most significant rise in the rankings.
The Scot’s win-loss record for the 2016 season so far (preceding the finals of the Erste Bank Open) is at a staggering 68-9 – giving him an 88.31% win rate.
Murray won his third Grand Slam this year with a title win at Wimbledon over Novak Djokovic; the Scot’s second title at that venue.