TENNIS – ANDY MURRAY IS NEW NUMBER 1, BUT FOR HOW LONG?
Today, Andy Murray became the new world number 1 ranked player on the ATP Tour, a career high for the Scottish superstar.
For 122 weeks, Serbian Novak Djokovic held a firm grasp on the top ranking in tennis, but Murray’s recent win at the Paris Masters put him over the top by 405 points.
He told BBC Sport yesterday, “I never thought I’d be number one in the world. It’s been many years of work to get here. It’s been such a difficult thing to do because of how good the guys around me have been.”
Indeed, Murray has had to wait 7 years and 2 months since he first became world number 2 to get to 1. Along, the way, he’s had to contend with three of the greatest players in tennis history in their primes (Roger Federer – won 17 Grand Slams; Rafael Nadal – Won 14 Grand Slams; and Novak Djokovic – won 12).
A back injury in 2014 also forced Murray to miss playing time and drop to 6 in the rankings. However, he managed to come back, hold his own, stay consistent and never give up the hope that his time would come.
All told, the 29-year-old Scot played 798 matches over 11.5 years as a pro before he reached number 1.
But, how long will Murray keep his crown?
Later this week at the ATP World Finals in London (Nov 13-20), 1500 points is up for grabs for the undefeated winner. That means if Djokovic wins this title, he will regain his throne.
Murray understands the ramifications. He said, “It might only be for one week (at No 1). So I might as well try and enjoy it, because I could lose it at the Tour Finals and never be there again”.
While possible, it is not likely.
Murray has fought so hard during arguably the hardest era in competitive men’s tennis for so long – he’s not going to give up easily.
He must also realize the privilege of being number one: Only 25 other men have ascended to the top of the rankings since 1973 and no other British singles player has done it.
Luckily, he’s been playing extremely well and remains healthy. Overall in 2016, he has 8 Titles including Wimbledon and an Olympic Gold.
And, he’s been on a major run since the US Open – 18 consecutive match wins and 4 tournaments won.
Still, Murray has more work to do.
He’s never made it past the semi-final stage at the ATP World Finals which follows a “round robin” style of tournament. Djokovic has won the title for the past 4 years.
Murray’s draw also looks tougher than Djokovic’s. He will have to get through Stan Wawrinka, Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori in his group on his path to the final. Two of those competitors have Grand Slam titles to their names.
Meanwhile, Djokovic’s group includes Milos Raonic, Domini Thiem, and Gael Monfils. All these players are on the rise and excellent in their own right, but not of the same caliber that Murray has to deal with.
Quite possibly, it will come down to the Serb and how he’s feeling.
Djokovic had a lackluster season after winning the French Open in June and completing the “Career Grand Slam”. In fact, he’s only won 1 tournament since September and he let his massive lead of nearly 8,000 ranking points over Murray dry up.
Some experts have also commented on how “slow” Djokovic has looked down the stretch and seems “unsure of himself”.
Certainly, something is wrong with him personally, or injuries are the culprit.
The question remains: Can Djokovic kick up his energy level another gear and compete for the World Number 1 ranking again?
What Does It Feel Like to Be #1?
I didn’t play many sports growing up. I liked watching them more, because I don’t think I’m wired to be very athletic.
But, there is one thing that I was very good at and that was hitting a baseball or softball.
My Dad could tell you – I was something.
We had many practices together and he taught me everything I knew. I remember he had me take the step forward (ala ARod) and wait for my pitch.
It was fun to know that I could do that well and beat out those other girly pitchers.
I took it as a compliment when a competitor struck me out one time and ran around the field yelling, “I struck her out! I struck her out!”
Yet, I was never crowned a batting champion. Well, I knew I helped bring my team (The Red Eagles) to the championships and win the whole enchilada.
Still, I wanted to be #1 and I wanted the rest of little league to know it was official.
I guess there’s still time for me to show everyone out there what a woman in her midlife can do with a bat in her hands.
In the meantime, I’m going to imagine what it must have felt like for Andy Murray to lay his head on the pillow last night and know he is the best in the world.
Oh, that must have been a great feeling.
I hope he can indeed relish in the fact that he reached the pinnacle of his career, even if it may be for only 1 week.
It’s an extraordinary accomplishment and something most of us mere mortals will go to the grave without ever experiencing.
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