Murray charges up rankings as Roddick goes for hat-trick

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The Independent Online

The victory of the 18-year-old from Dunblane in Sunday's Comerica Challenger event in Aptos, California, made him the official British No 3 behind Tim Henman, the world No 11, and Greg Rusedski, the world No 40.

To put Murray's progress in perspective, Henman was aged 20 when he broke into the world's top 200 in 1994.

Today Murray is due to play the 115th-ranked Flavio Saretta, of Brazil, in the first round of the RCA Championships in Indianapolis, for which he was given a wild card. Andy Roddick, of the United States, the top seed, is hoping to win the title for the third year in a row.

Murray, the holder of the US Open junior singles title, made a successful return to American rubberised concrete courts in Aptos last week, defeating Rajeev Ram, a fellow wild card, 6-4, 6-3, in the final to become the youngest winner in the tournament's 19-year history. The win gained Murray 60 ATP points and added £6,150 to his campaign chest.

Having taken a backwards step in terms of temperament at the recent Campbell's Hall of Fame Championships in Newport, Rhode Island, where he complained about the state of the grass courts after his loss to Antony Dupuis, of France, in the second round, Murray held his concentration well in Aptos.

Ram, a 21-year-old from Denver, elevated his ranking to a career-high 234 by advancing to the final. Standing 6ft 4in, the American made his reach count, particularly in the opening set. Ram, serving at 5-4 down, had two chances to pull level at 5-5.

Murray's potent service returns eventually subdued his opponent, though the Scot admitted: "I had to work hard to make the right shot. Rajeev was getting to passing shots that nobody else has been getting to. It seemed like he would just stick out his racket and the ball would come back."

Ram praised Murray, saying: "Andy has been playing very well and has been on a bit of a run this summer. He is tough to beat when he is returning and making passing shots so well."

Murray will now try to boost his ranking further before the US Open at the end of next month. The Indianapolis tournament will be his fifth on the ATP Tour. Saretta, his first hurdle there, is ranked 49 places above Murray, and two years ago he stood at No 44 in the world.

The winner will play Mardy Fish, the American 16th seed, a silver medallist in the men's singles at last year's Athens Olympics.

Murray, whose adventures this year have taken him to mainline ATP tournaments in Barcelona, London's Queen's Club and Newport, Rhode Island, made an impressive Grand Slam debut at Wimbledon before fitness took its toll in a five-set defeat by David Nalbandian, of Argentina, in the third round.

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