By Jake Davies

  • Andy Murray [2] defeats Tomas Berdych [7] 7-6 (9) 7-5
  • Victory over Milos Raonic would put Murray at the top of the rankings
PARIS, FRANCE – Andy Murray will look to extend his seven-match winning spree against Milos Raonic, with the World No. 1 spot tantalasingly within reach.

 

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Andy Murray [2] defeats Tomas Berdych [7] 7-6 (9) 7-5

Murray is just the one win from becoming the world number one for the very first time after his win over Czech Berdych in the Paris Masters Quarter-Final.

Novak Djokovic’s loss to Marin Cilic meant that Murray simply needed to make the final of the Masters 1000 level event to ensure that he will attain the top ranking. The only player standing in Murray’s way now is Canada’s Milos Raonic.

Murray’s win against Berdych was far from straightforward. It was one of the closest matches that Berdych has had against the British No.1 in quite some time. The Czech had incredible chances to notch the first set. Unbelievable shotmaking and risk taking from the baseline gave Berdych five set points in the first set tiebreak. However, he began to fall apart when he faced a considerable leading position, in which Murray took full advantage of.

The Brit defended a total of seven set points, but Berdych’s forehand started misfiring and his first serve deserted him, which allowed Murray to take a thrilling first set in the breaker.

The World No. 2 took an early break lead in the second set and served for the match at *5-4. However, Berdych could not consistently break through the resistance of his opponent as Murray prevailed with the win 7-6 (9) 7-5.

The major difference in this match was the habit of winning tenns matches that Murray has had in 2016. He backs himself in the big, pressurised moments and has gained even more confidence because of the amount of matches he has won this year, both when playing at his peak and also when he has had his back up against the wall. On the contrary, Berdych has not won enough matches that could restore his self-belief when it matters most. That was what settled this match as was evident in the first set tiebreak.

Andy Murray [2] vs Milos Raonic [4] – H2H: Murray leads 8-3

It is the repeat of this year’s Wimbledon final. On that day, Murray won pretty easily, but Raonic was still trying to find his feet in a first Grand Slam final. It was a new experience.

Raonic has had a great season. He started off the year brilliantly with a title win in Brisbane and then backed that up with a semi-final finish at this year’s Australian Open. The biggest change in the Canadian’s game in 2016 is being given the freedom by his coaches Riccardo Piatti and Carlos Moya to come to the net more often. It really became evident at this year’s Wimbledon where he started working with John McEnroe. Now that his coaches have given him the green light to work on his net game, he is now taking advantage of the short returns he gets from the gigantic serve of his.

Murray will be facing a more fired up Raonic in the Paris Masters semi-final. The Canadian has worked on his body language to ensure that his opponent recognises that Raonic is feeling good about the tennis he is playing. Again, this was clear to see on the grass courts in London earlier this year.

The World No.1 ranking hangs in the balance for Murray. He would never have imagined he would be in this position a few years ago following back surgery. His determination and commitment to being the absolute best at what he does has enabled him to get the very best out of his career. Earning the World No.1 ranking would validate that.

Prediction: Murray in three sets

 

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