Only one match now stands between Andy Murray and history – today’s semi-final at the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris.
If the Scot can beat either Milos Raonic or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to reach the final, he will overtake Novak Djokovic in the world rankings when the new list is published on Monday. He will become only the 27th No 1 the sport has had since the list of standings was first compiled in 1973.
It would the ultimate prize at the end of the finest year in the Scot’s career. Winning Wimbledon for the first time in 2013 was spectacular; winning a first grand slam at the US Open was possibly the greatest sense of relief he had ever felt. But this is something else.
“I think it is quite different,” Murray said, “because years of work goes into trying to win a grand slam. I know that. It took me a long time to do it. Getting to No. 1 is 12 months of work, basically. Consistency. I have never done that before. In my career, I have had periods where I have been consistent for a few months at a time and then drop-offs. Whereas, this year, barring the month in March, I can’t have done much better than I have done.
“I have put myself in a position to do something that takes, you know, a lot of consistency, a lot of concentration for a long period of time. I’m happy about that.”
His chance came when Djokovic was beaten 6-4, 7-6 in the Paris quarter-finals by Marin Cilic. As it happened, that was the match before Murray’s so he stepped on court last night against Tomas Berdych knowing that the top ranking position was now within his grasp and within his control. He won 7-6, 7-5 but the nerves had been jangling a little more than usual as he started work and he knows they will be jangling again today before the semi-final.
“Before the match there were a few more nerves maybe than there was earlier in the week,” he said. “But once I got out there, I didn’t feel any different to any other match. I didn’t play the match differently to how I would have played other matches, which is good.
“Tomorrow will be the same, probably. I have never been in that position before, but I would imagine I would be pretty nervous beforehand. Once I get out there I settle down. I don’t mind being nervous. It’s a good thing. It helps me.