Sir Andy Murray increases rankings lead despite defeat

Sir Andy Murray smiles during the final of the ATP Qatar Open against Novak Djokovic. Picture: AK BijuRaj/Getty Images

Sir Andy Murray smiles during the final of the ATP Qatar Open against Novak Djokovic. Picture: AK BijuRaj/Getty Images

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World No 1 Sir Andy Murray has strengthened his position at the top of the rankings despite being beaten by Novak Djokovic in the final of the Qatar Open last week.

Murray took his place at the summit of the men’s game after a scintillating run in the second half of 2016 saw him usurp Djokovic and end the Serbian’s 122-week reign as No 1. The Scot, knighted in the New Year’s Honours list, is tipped to dominate 2017 but Djokovic brought a sense of normality back when he won a thrilling three-set final in Doha on Saturday. However,
despite that loss Murray 
actually extended his lead at the top due to the nature of the rankings.

Djokovic won the title last year and was defending 250 points so his tally remains the same while because Murray played in the Hopman Cup – a non-ranking exhibition event – the 150 points he won for finishing runner-up is added to his total, extending the gap to 630 points.

Therefore Murray is guaranteed to be the No 1 one seed for the Australian Open, which starts next week, though will lose his crown to Djokovic if the Serbian retains his title in Melbourne and he does not make the semi-finals.

In Sydney, Kyle Edmund’s birthday celebrations were ruined as he was dumped out of the Apia International by qualifier Matthew Barton.

The British No 2, below, who took a set off three-time grand slam winner Stan Wawrinka in Brisbane last week, turned 22 on Sunday but his party was cut short by the world No 198, who won the first-round clash 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/5). In the first set, Edmund and Barton forced just one break point apiece, neither converted, which left the Australian to take the tie-break.

The second set was a similar story, but Edmund’s chance came when he earned a set point at 5-4, but Barton fought hard to hold his serve and then claimed the match in a second tie-break.

There was better news for British No 3 Dan Evans, who got past Thiago Monteiro in three sets.

Evans triumphed 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 to register his first win on the ATP Tour since the US Open last September. He broke twice on the way to a comfortable first set but then found the tables turned as the Brazilian broke twice to level it up. A nervous final set saw two breaks exchanged, but when Evans got the decisive third it left him to serve out for the match.

In the Sydney women’s draw Dominika Cibulkova and Johanna Konta both made it through safely to the second round.

Third seed Cibulkova dropped just two games in a 6-2, 6-0 triumph over Laura Siegemund while Konta, seeded six, had too much for lucky loser Arina Rodionova in a 6-3, 6-4 victory. However, eighth seed Elena Vesnina is out after she was forced to retire against Coco Vandeweghe when she was trailing 6-4, 4-0.

Tenth seed Caroline Wozniacki was made to work hard by Monico Puig before seeing off the Olympic singles champion 6-3, 2-, 6-4 to reach round two.

Home favourite Daria Gavrilova toppled Donna Vekic 6-3, 7-6 (7/1), with Roberta Vinci, Barbora Strycova, Christina McHale, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Duan Ying-Ying also making it through.

At the Hobart International, top seed Kiki Bertens made light work of Annika Beck, defeating the German 6-1, 6-2. Belgian qualifier Elise Mertens stunned seventh seed Kristina Mladenovic 6-1 6-2 to set up a second-round clash with Sachia Vickery, who beat Teliana Pereira 6-3, 7-6 (7/5).

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