While many of his colleagues are dragging their battered bodies towards the season's finish line, Andy Murray continues to race like a sprinter out of the starting blocks. The world No 3 won for the 27th time in his last 28 matches yesterday, crushing Andy Roddick 6-2, 6-2 in just 61 minutes here in the third round of the Paris Masters. He said afterwards that he was playing "probably the best tennis of my career".
Just as he did in beating Roddick for the loss of the same number of games at Queen's Club in June, Murray outplayed the American from start to finish. The Scot outfoxed him with some delightful drop shots, repeatedly passed him after drawing him into the net, returned serve beautifully and struck some stunning forehands – a part of his game which has been a weakness in the past.
Alas, poor Roddick. The world No 15, who has had a mediocre and injury-troubled year, became increasingly frustrated at being the pupil in what at times resembled a master class. His emotions got the better of him early in the second set when he smashed his racket, hurling it to the floor after missing a forehand.
The one moment of concern for Murray, who meets Tomas Berdych in today's quarter-finals, was when he sent for the trainer after only three games, but the soreness he felt in a hamstring – the same problem he suffered in Basle last week – did not get any worse.
While Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer took lengthy breaks after the US Open and Rafael Nadal has chosen to rest this week, Murray has powered onwards. He has won the last two Masters Series events and claimed three titles in a row during his current 17-match winning run.
The Scot feels mentally fresh and believes a change in his diet has been a major factor in his physical wellbeing. For the last four months he has avoided gluten and dairy products in an attempt to identify any foodstuffs which might give him a problem. He has undergone blood tests and will discuss the results with specialists when he returns home next week, when he hopes to be able to reintroduce some items into his diet.
Had he missed any food in particular? "It's more just being able to pick up or order whatever is on the menu. Sometimes when you're waiting for your food to come it can be quite frustrating when everyone else is dunking bread in the olive oil and smearing butter on it."
Has the diet helped with early-mornings like yesterday's 10.30am start? "It definitely helps. I slept probably seven and a half hours after playing singles and doubles yesterday and woke up feeling fine and obviously started the match well, too, so that's one of the benefits of doing the diet, taking it seriously. I've felt much more energetic, much fresher." He added: "I don't have any aches or pains. I wake up in the morning and I feel OK."
Federer and Djokovic reached the quarter-finals at the expense of Richard Gasquet and Viktor Troicki respectively, while Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Mardy Fish secured the final three places in the elite eight-man field for the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, which begin in London in nine days' time. Fish had already qualified by the time he retired against Juan Monaco with a hamstring injury, which he insisted would not prevent him appearing at the O2 Arena.
London bound: The eight finalists
Qualifiers for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena, London, from 20-27 November:
Novak Djokovic (Serbia)
Outstanding player of the year: 10 titles (including three Grand Slams) but has struggled with fitness lately.
Rafael Nadal (Spain)
Has won fewer titles (three) than in any season since 2004; lost in seven finals, six of them to Djokovic.
Andy Murray (Britain)
Semi-finalist twice in his three year-ending finals appearances. In form of his life after three title wins in a row.
Roger Federer (Switzerland)
Tenth successive appearance and attempting to win for sixth time, but has won only two titles this year.
David Ferrer (Spain)
Beaten by Federer in final on first appearance in event four years ago; lost all three matches last year.
Tomas Berdych (Czech Republic)
Failed to go beyond round-robin stage on debut last year.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (France)
Won only one match on previous appearance in 2008.
Mardy Fish (United States)
At 29 enjoying best year of his career; form has dipped recently.