Andy Murray is already second favourite to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award but at this rate Bradley Wiggins must be wondering whether the Scot might catch him in a sprint finish. The US Open champion, who is the first British man to win a Grand Slam singles title for 76 years, extended his winning run to 10 matches here yesterday when he beat Stanislas Wawrinka 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 to reach the semi-finals of the Japan Open.
Murray, nevertheless, would like the BBC to break with tradition at their end-of-year extravaganza. "Personally I don't think this year there should be a winner of the Sports Personality of the Year," Murray said after securing a meeting with Canada's Milos Raonic in today's semi-finals. "I think it should be a celebration of the year as a whole and of what we, as a nation, have achieved, rather than singling one person out and saying he or she has had the best year.
"There are so many things that go into all the different sports. Somebody like Rory McIlroy has had an incredible year, but people aren't really talking about him as a potential winner. It's just because he's not part of an Olympic sport. I think it would be a cool way to do it, but they won't. It's so hard to decide because so many things have happened this year. I can't see us having another year like this for a while."
Asked what had given him the most enjoyment in 2012 as a spectator, Murray chose the evening in the Olympic Stadium when Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah all won gold in the space of just 42 minutes. "There were certain things I missed through travelling and not being able to watch, but I saw that evening and it was really cool," he said.
If Murray does win the BBC award, he is unlikely to pick it up in person. The world No 4 spends most of December training in Miami and will be there again this year to work with his coach, Ivan Lendl.
"For me, that time of the year and those days of training are so important," Murray said.
"It has worked so well for me in the past and I do not think going back and forth for three or four days and not having Ivan around is wise. It may not make a difference, but sometimes tennis matches come down to the smallest of differences.
"Say I was in the semi or the final of the Australian Open and I got tired at 5-5 in the fifth set or whatever, I may look back on it. I need to do the right thing for my tennis. I'm not saying I'm definitely not going to go, but I've spoken to my team and I haven't planned on coming back."
Murray also revealed that he does not expect to play next year in Dubai or Rotterdam following the Australian Open. He usually plays in one of the tournaments before the Indian Wells Masters in March, but next year he plans to spend that period training again in Miami, although he might enter the nearby Delray Beach event at the end of February.
"After Australia, obviously Indian Wells and Miami are important tournaments," Murray said. "Last year I went over to train in Miami and then I went back to Dubai. I did well in Dubai and then flew back over to Miami. That maybe wasn't perfect for Indian Wells [where Murray lost his first match], so I think I'm probably going to spend more time in Miami and not do so much travelling at the start of the year."
Wawrinka gave Murray his toughest test of the week and took advantage of a dip in the world No 4's form midway through the second set. Murray, nevertheless, quickly took control of the decider to win after just over two hours.
A match played in the middle of another steamy day in the Ariake Colosseum saw both men receive code violations after smashing their rackets in frustration. Murray was on court again some 90 minutes later to play doubles with his brother, Jamie, but they were beaten 6-4, 3-6, 10-2 by the top seeds, Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek.
In the other singles semi-final, Kei Nishikori will take on Marcos Baghdatis. Nishikori, the best player in Japan's history, delighted his home crowd with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Tomas Berdych, the No 2 seed.
All the top players, with the exception of the injured Rafael Nadal, will compete next week at the Shanghai Masters, which will increase its security measures after it was revealed yesterday that a death threat had been made against Roger Federer.
The threat was made on a fan website by "Blue Cat Polytheism Founder 07". The tournament said that it took all such issues seriously and "has security in place for our players and every precaution is taken".
Britain's year: Award favourites
* Leading odds for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year
B Wiggins (Cycling) 4/7 A Murray (Tennis) 10/3 M Farah (Athletics) 9/2 J Ennis (Athletics) 12/1 D Weir (Athletics) 25/1 I Poulter (Golf) 33/1 E Simmonds (Swimming) 66/1 R McIlroy (Golf) 100/1 Sir C Hoy (Cycling) 100/1 B Ainslie (Sailing) 150/1
Odds from William Hill
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