Paris Masters 2014: Andy Murray hopes punishing schedule will reap big dividends next year

Scot reveals that making the season-ending World Tour Finals was not the biggest motivation for his rapid climb back up the rankings

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The Independent Online

Andy Murray has been relentless in his pursuit of a place in the elite eight-man field for next month’s Barclays ATP World Tour Finals but revealed that it had not been his major motivation for embarking on a marathon globe-trotting schedule which has brought him three titles in the last five weeks.

“I was more interested in trying to get myself back into the top eight players in the world,” Murray said as he prepared for his opening match in the Paris Masters against France’s Julien Benneteau.

“It makes a big difference for the seedings at all of the Masters Series tournaments and the major events at the beginning of the year,” he added.

Murray took time to find his form after returning from back surgery at the start of this season and by the end of the US Open last month had dropped to No 11 in both the world rankings and the “Race to London”.

The eight places at the World Tour Finals, which begin in 11 days’ time, go to the players who have earned the most ranking points in the year, with this week’s tournament the last qualifying event.

However, after playing five tournaments in a row – and winning 18 out of 20 matches in the space of just 32 days – Murray is back up to No 8 in the rankings and No 5 in the qualifying list for London. He all but secured his place at the O2 Arena with his victory in last week’s Valencia Open.

“I still have a chance of getting maybe to No 4 in the world between now and the end of the year, which would be very important for the beginning of next year,” Murray said.

“After the US Open I wanted to try and start winning tournaments again. I wanted to try and compete against the best players again, to start moving my ranking back up and set myself up for the next year. That was my main thinking behind it.

“Then, when you start to get closer and closer to the O2, or the end of the year, and you get asked about it every single day, it’s natural that it becomes a focus.

“But I’m telling the truth. It wasn’t my No 1 reason, after the US Open, for why I decided to play a lot of tournaments.”

He added: “It’s been a long few weeks, but it’s been very beneficial for me. I gained a lot of confidence in my body again from playing this many matches and from winning a lot of tough, long, close matches.”

Murray admitted, nevertheless, that his victory over Tommy Robredo in Sunday’s Valencia final – which at three hours and 20 minutes was the longest on the ATP tour this year – had taken a lot out of him. “My whole body was sore,” he said. “My back was sore, my hips were sore, just aching and I was cramping too in the final, so the muscles hurt.”

Kyle Edmund, Britain’s most promising teenager, has split with his coach, Greg Rusedski, after only six months. Edmund, aged 19, broke into the world’s top 300 earlier this year but his progress has stalled since the summer. Ranked No 242, he is now the British No 5 behind Murray, James Ward, Ed Corrie and Liam Broady.

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