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How can Andy Murray overtake Novak Djokovic?

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Serbia's Novak Djokovic / AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BUREAU

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic / AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BUREAU

The battle for world No 1 is going on at the Paris Masters as both Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray get their campaigns underway yesterday. Here are answers to all key questions regarding Murray’s bid for the top spot.

When can Murray become world No 1?
Murray’s stunning run in recent weeks – including three consecutive titles in Beijing, Shanghai and Vienna – means that he could reach the top spot as soon as this coming Monday (November 7). He needs another strong performance in Paris to do so, though.

What exactly does he have to do?
If Murray wins the Paris Masters title, then he will become world No 1 as long as Djokovic does not reach the final.
He will also climb to No 1 if he reaches the final and Djokovic loses before the semi-finals.

How does the ranking points system work?
The rankings system is based on performances at up to 19 tournaments over the last 12 months. Players are awarded ranking points for each tournament they play in, the amount depending on which round the player reached. For example, the winner of a Grand Slam receives 2,000 points, while a quarter-finalist receives 360 points.

The 12-month system means that a player often defends the ranking points they won at the same tournament the previous year. For example, Djokovic earned 1,000 points for winning the Paris Masters last year. If he does not win the title this week, he will drop points, the amount depending on what stage he exits the tournament.

There is a slight quirk in the system at this time of year, which gives Murray the chance to become world No 1 so soon. Normally the points for last year’s tournament are dropped from a player’s total on the Monday following the tournament this year. But the ATP World Tour Final points actually come off this Monday, six days before the tournament begins.

Calculations on how Murray can become No 1?
World No 1 Djokovic’s current ranking points total is 12,900. World No 2 Murray is on 10,985, which is 1,915 behind.

As the defending champion, Djokovic is defending 1,000 points, so cannot gain any more points even if he wins Paris again this year. Murray finished runner-up last year, so is defending 600 points.

Using the scenario that involves Murray winning the title, he would gain 400 points, while a Djokovic run to the semi-finals sees him drop 640 points.

Last year’s ATP World Tour Final points then also come off this Monday. Djokovic drops 1,300 points before having the chance to defend his title at the O2, while Murray loses 200 points after just one group match win last year.

That would put Murray on 11,185 points and Djokovic on 10,960.

If Murray does it this week, does that mean he will be the year-end world No 1?
No. There are a substantial amount of ranking points available at the ATP World Tour Finals, up to 1,500 for a champion who goes undefeated in all his three group matches. It means there is the tantalising prospect of a Djokovic vs Murray showdown with the world No 1 ranking at stake in London, which isn’t possible in Paris as a run to the final for Djokovic – he and Murray can only meet in the final as the top two seeds – is enough for him to ensure he stays at No 1 on Monday.

Djokovic, however, can actually seal the year-end No 1 ranking for the third consecutive time in Paris. If he wins the title and Murray loses before the semi-finals, then it is all wrapped up before London.

So, Murray only secures the year-end top spot if he is still No 1 after the ATP World Tour Finals?
No. Murray has 275 points coming off his total on November 28 for last year’s Davis Cup final. There were no ranking points awarded for the Davis Cup this year, so Murray has not been able to earn any points from Great Britain’s run to the semi-finals.

If Murray is more than 275 points ahead of Djokovic after the ATP World Tour Finals on November 21, only then has he sealed the year-end No 1 ranking.

What would it mean to Murray if he became world No 1?
It would be just reward for his efforts, not just over the last year, but throughout his whole career, going up against Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in an era which is regarded as the greatest in the history of the sport.

Murray has actually played down the prospect of becoming world No 1 in the coming weeks, insisting that it was not a goal to do it before the end of the year. He thinks there is a better chance of him doing it in the early part of next year when he does not have many points to defend.

But if it does happen in Paris this week, then expect to see some emotion from Murray.

Would he be the first British tennis player to become world No 1?
Murray’s elder brother Jamie actually achieved the feat earlier this year in doubles. Virginia Wade also became doubles world No 1 in 1973.

Before the computerised rankings were introduced by the ATP in 1973, an annual list was complied by leading tennis journalists. Fred Perry was regarded as No 1 in the 1930s and Angela Mortimer in 1961.

But Murray certainly would be the first British singles player – and the 26th male in the world – to reach No 1 under the computerised system, something many tennis fans in this country thought they would never see.

How long has Djokovic been No 1 for?
Djokovic’s third spell of 123 weeks at No 1 began after winning his second Wimbledon title on July 7, 2014. Throughout his career, he has been No 1 for a total of 223 weeks.

Culled from DailyMail


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