Jamie Murray guaranteed that he will keep his world No 1 doubles ranking by partnering Bruno Soares to a crucial semi-final victory at the Monte Carlo Masters. Marcelo Melo, the Scot’s predecessor as world No 1, would have reclaimed top spot with victory alongside Ivan Dodig, but Murray and Soares won 6-2, 6-4 to claim a place in Sunday’s final against Colombia’s Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah or France’s Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert, who meet in the second semi-final.
Murray, who won his first Grand Slam doubles title with Soares at this year’s Australian Open, went just five rankings points clear of Melo after the recent Miami Masters. In doing so he became the first British player of either sex to be ranked world No 1 in either singles or doubles.
Having not played in Monte Carlo last year, Murray had the chance this week to build his ranking points total, whereas Melo, a semi-finalist 12 months ago, needed to make the final to move ahead of the Scot when the rankings are updated next week.
Murray and Soares raced into a 4-0 lead in the first set, but Melo and Dodig started to find some rhythm towards the end of it. With Dodig in particular hitting some fine shots, the second set was much tighter.
However at 4-4 Dodig dropped his serve, giving Murray the opportunity to serve out for victory. Soares missed volleys on the first two match points but Murray’s quick reactions at the net enabled the Scot to hit the winning shot after an hour and seven minutes.
Melo will have the opportunity to make up ground next month in Madrid and Rome, where Murray has more points to defend than the Brazilian. Murray, however, has an excellent chance to be world No 1 when Wimbledon comes round because Melo will be defending the title at the French Open, whereas Murray did not make it beyond the third round at Roland Garros last year.
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