Finally, Andy Murray found himself on the right side of the finishing line. In his third consecutive Grand Slam final, Andy clinched the Wimbledon title to end his barren run in Grand Slams. The entire country was in an ebullient mood and even the ever-poker faced Ivan Lendl was seen shedding a few tears. But even before the celebrations for Andy’s victory came to an end, his fans found a new milestone for him to look forward to - the World No. 1 ranking.
Andy Murray is a multiple Grand Slam champion, a gold medalist at the Olympics and a Davis Cup champion. What is missing is the number 1 ranking. He has never been this close to the achievement and it could not have come at a better time. At the age of 29, he is at the peak of his career. He looks well settled, focused, and fired up. He has the experience and the talent, what he needs now is a perfect end to this year. You can see the experience reflect in his words. This is what he had to say about his prospects of becoming the number one player in the world:
“It’s possible. I’d rather set the bar as high as possible and not quite achieve it. It’s better to try to finish number 1 in the world and finish at two.”
The scenario right now
The scoring system is not the only intriguing part about tennis. The ranking points system is equally eccentric and exciting. A player must, every year, defend the points he or she won last year. For example, Andy Murray won the Wimbledon this year and gained 2000 points, so he must win the Wimbledon next year to retain those 2000 points, else he will lose points according to where he finishes in the tournament. Therefore, there is no way to gain more points for the champion but he or she must defend those points.
Andy Murray’s points tally has reached 10065 points post-Wimbledon. He is 4975 points behind the world number 1, Novak Djokovic. Djokovic has been at the top spot since July of 2014 and since then has never looked like losing it. His implacable run at Grand Slams and masters have only strengthened his standing. Such has been his dominance that before Wimbledon, it would have taken the sum of both Federer and Murray’s points to reach Djokovic’s points tally. The question then arises, how come all of a sudden there is news about Andy threatening Djokovic’s throne.
The answer is Wimbledon 2016. Novak was the defending champion, which means he was defending 2000 points. His shock defeat to Querrey in third round meant he lost 1910 points. Murray, on the other hand, gained points as he went past his last year’s semi-final showing to win the title this year. The gap lessened and is now around 5000 points. But 5000 points is not a small number. To give you a perspective, Roger Federer, who is currently world number 3, has a total of 5945 points. But, the fact that Murray is playing some of his finest tennis this year and that he might continue to play well the entire season, makes us believe that Djokovic might have to eventually cede power to Andy.
What Andy needs to do
The eccentricity of the ranking points system has made us delve deeper into the top two rankings. Due to last year’s results, Djokovic has to defend 6500 points in the remaining part of the year, at and above masters level. On the other hand, Murray has to defend only 2700 points. The table below gives the breaking of points tournament-wise.
Please note this does not include tournaments at 500 and 250 level.
As some of you might have noticed, there are three key tournaments where Murray can really force his charge to wrest the number 1 spot from Djokovic. These three tournaments are Shanghai Rolex Masters, ATP World Tour Finals, and the U.S Open. Murray defends just 740 points in these three tournaments combined whereas Djokovic defends a massive 4300 points. An early exit like the one at Wimbledon and the Serbian can find himself in trouble.
Last week, Andy announced that he will not defend his title at Roger’s Cup as he wishes to rest well before the Olympics. This implies that Andy loses 1000 points. This seems like a big setback for him as he aims to reach number 1 spot. However, in the long run, it might just work well for him. To compete against a well-rested Djokovic in later part of the year, Andy will need energy and freshness. Tired legs never win Grand Slams.
Fact: Last time Andy won the Olympic gold, he went to win the U.S. open title. This was in the year 2012.
In layman’s words, Andy needs Shanghai title, ATP world tour finals title and the US open title to come close to his dream. Easier said than done, but you do not become the World number 1 overnight and Andy is aware of it:
“I would love to now go on and get to number one in the rankings but it will be incredibly difficult as Novak’s consistency has been unbelievable. I’ll need to keep up my level of the last couple of months right through until the end of the year to close the gap. “
What world number 1 ranking would mean for Andy
Andy has been in the ‘Big Four’ for a long time, but he has always been the fourth member. So much so that many people argued that Stanislas Wawrinka was as good as Andy. No more. Andy is a three-time Grand Slam Champion and an eight-time runner-up. He is finally coming out of the shadow of the other members of the ‘Big Four’ and making a mark for himself. Tennis fans have realized that Andy Murray is a rare talent. If players like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal come once in 100 years, then players like Andy Murray come once in 80 years. Well at least for British tennis.
“I don’t know what my legacy will be. When I finish it would be nice if British tennis was in a better place than when I came in.” –Andy Murray
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