Andy Murray may have struggled for form and fitness this year but his reign as world No 1 has already passed one significant milestone.
Since the ATP Rankings system was introduced in 1973, the average duration of a player’s stay at the top of the tennis standings has been 168 days – just under 24 weeks – according to new research.
Murray has already hit this landmark, and indeed surpassed it on Sunday 23 April before competing at the Barcelona Open, where he reached the semi-finals before bowing out to Dominic Thiem.
The 29-year-old Scot, who is next in action at next week’s Madrid Open as he continues his comeback from an elbow injury, has managed to hold on to the top spot despite consistent pressure from Serbian rival Novak Djokovic, who himself has held the rankings crown for a total of 223 weeks across three spells during his glittering career.
Djokovic, though, sits only fourth in the all-time charts, 18-time grand slam champion Roger Federer inevitably topping the tables with 302 total weeks as the world’s leading player, while Murray currently lies in 15th in the list of 26 past and present world No 1s.
However, Murray has a long way to go before he surpasses the average career duration at world No 1, which sits at almost 88 weeks – more than triple the average duration of a single stint.
The data, by money-saving website vouchercloud, also revealed the players who arguably had the easiest ride to world No 1 – Andy Roddick, Ivan Lendl, Lleyton Hewitt and Marcelo Rios all held the position without having to win a single grand slam.
Mats Wilander, conversely, had to win seven majors before securing the top spot for the first time, while John Newcombe claimed six, and Rafael Nadal and Boris Becker five, before they each led the pack.
On average, players have had to win two grand slams before staking a claim to the world No 1 spot – Murray lifted three before earning his place in November.
The data also showed the longest individual stints at world No 1, with Federer (237 weeks) again reigning supreme. Jimmy Connors (160) and Lendl (157) still lead Djokovic (122), who will be unlikely to surpass that total throughout the rest of his career.
John McEnroe and Connors were to blame for many of the shortest spells, stealing the top spot from each other with stunning regularity. On four occasions McEnroe enjoyed just the one-week stay at world No 1, while Connors had two stints at the head of affairs which lasted only seven days.