Murray aims to end year on high note


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The Independent Online

The Paris Masters comes at a time when most of the top players are clinging on to the last vestiges of their fitness after a long and gruelling season.

The final Masters Series event of the season has not been the most productive tournament for Andy Murray over the years, but the Scot has arrived here in good shape and determined to build on the best winning run of his career.

Despite last week's hiccup in Basle, where he withdrew before his first match because of a gluteal muscle problem, Murray is on a high after winning 25 of his last 26 matches.

Having won three titles in a row, in Bangkok, Tokyo and Shanghai, the world No 3 would love to continue his winning run in his last two events, this week and then at the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, which begin at the O2 Arena in London in 12 days' time.

Murray plays his opening singles match here tomorrow against France's Jérémy Chardy or Spain's Marcel Granollers and proved his fitness by winning his first-round doubles match yesterday in partnership with Ross Hutchins.

The Britons came from a set down to beat the Spaniards Nicolas Almagro and David Mannero 4-6, 6-3, 10-7 (champions' tie-break).

"The last few years, after the US Open, I haven't necessarily played my best," Murray said last night. "I had an injury a couple of years ago and then last year I didn't play particularly well in Valencia or here, although I played well at the O2.

"I wanted to make sure that I made the most of the last few months [of the season]. Physically I've felt fresh and that also helps. Maybe the last few years I've been coming into this stretch feeling a bit like: 'Let's just try and get through the last few tournaments without any injuries.'

"Now I actually feel good, barring what happened last week. That was just a freak thing. My body feels pretty good, so that's why I set the goals to try and win as many matches as possible and finish as high in the rankings as possible. If I can do that then it's a step in the right direction."

Murray has already overtaken Roger Federer to reach No 3 in the world rankings and wants to ensure this week that the Swiss cannot catch him before the end of the year. After that his focus will be on London, where he failed to progress beyond the round-robin stage two years ago and lost to Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals last year. "I've actually always played well there but I've never managed to get to the final or win it, so this year I'd like to try and do that," Murray said.

"It's a big challenge. Not many guys have been able to win it. Roger's had a great record. It's a good surface for me, so hopefully I can have a good run there. But this week I need to try and get some matches in. I don't really want to go in there not having played a match for five or six weeks."