Paris Masters: Andy Murray one win away from being world number one after beating Tomas Berdych in straight sets

Andy Murray beat Tomas Berdych in straight-sets

Friday 04 November 2016 23:43
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Andy Murray of Great Britain reacts during the Mens Singles quarter final match against Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic
Andy Murray of Great Britain reacts during the Mens Singles quarter final match against Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic

Andy Murray will relish the chance to play for the world number one ranking on Saturday after battling to a straight-sets win over Tomas Berdych at the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris.

Murray will face Milos Raonic or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semi-finals - they were contesting the last match of Friday night's schedule - knowing that victory will be enough for him to end Novak Djokovic's run of 122 consecutive weeks at the top.

Djokovic handed the Scot the initiative in the race for the summit after going down 6-4 7-6 (7/2) to feisty Croatian Marin Cilic.

Murray admitted his next match will provide a unique set of pressures but reiterated his insistence that if the number one ranking does arrive, for the first time in his career, it will do so ahead of schedule.

Murray told Sky Sports: "I've never been in that position before so it's a new experience for me, so I don't know how I'll deal with it.

"My goal isn't to get to number one this year. I was looking at the beginning of next year as the chance to do it. If it happens this week, great."

Murray saved seven set points in an extraordinary first-set tie-break before eventually going on to overcome Berdych 7-6 (11/9) 7-5 and book his place in the last four.

If Murray felt any extra pressure to perform after Djokovic's earlier departure it did not show in a powerful opening set until his Czech opponent seized control in the breaker, fashioning five set points after racing into a 6-1 lead.

But the Scot clawed his back to level at 6-6 and would save two more set points - one after a bizarre double fault - before swatting away a fine forehand to finally put the opener to bed.

It seemed all over for Berdych when Murray roared out for the start of the second set and took advantage of his second break point to immediately break and move closer to victory.

Murray's relentless ground strokes were clearly having an effect but, out of nowhere, an apparently flagging Berdych grasped his last chance to break Murray back when he served for the match.

Murray brushed himself off and responded by immediately breaking serve himself - then completed victory on his third match-point opportunity after blasting down back-to-back aces.

Murray added: "I'm happy with the way I'm playing just now. It's been a great few months for me. I'll try to finish this week as best I can."

Djokovic's hold on the world number one position had looked increasingly precarious after he had required treatment on a knee injury on his way to an unconvincing last-16 win over Grigor Dimitrov on Thursday.

And tackling Cilic proved a match too far, with the man who had lost all 14 of his previous matches against Djokovic never relinquishing the advantage he gained this time when dispatching his second set-point chance in the opener.

Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic
Britain's Andy Murray returns the ball to Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic

Cilic missed two break-point chances for a 2-0 lead in the second set and looked like he could rue his missed opportunity when Djokovic broke to serve for it at 5-4.

But the Serbian produced two double faults as he allowed Cilic to break back, before moving to the brink of defeat again when Cilic gained two match points at 6-5.

Djokovic saved both of them as he forced a tie-break, but the Croatian was in no mood to let his chance slip again as he cruised through the breaker.

Djokovic said on atptour.com: "He (Cilic) definitely played better today and he deserved to win - I wasn't on the level I could have been on.

"I was in the good position to take the match into a third set, and then two double faults. In the important moments I wasn't able to deliver."

Press Association

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