By Ros Satar
- Andy Murray becomes World No. 1 on Monday after reaching the Paris final via a walkover
- Milos Raonic withdrew shortly before the semi-final with a quad tear
- He will play John Isner in the Paris Masters
- All stats from TennisAbstract
PARIS, FRANCE – After Novak Djokovic’s shock defeat, Milos Raonic withdrew from the Paris Masters semi-final handing Andy Murray the World No. 1 ranking on Monday.
World No. 1 – year-end in play at the World Tour Finals, London
Despite playing down the World No. 1 as his target, Murray’s strong summer, and Djokovic’s downturn in form and injury issues since winning the French Open put the Brit firmly in the frame for the top spot.
With Djokovic withdrawing from Beijing with an elbow injury, the difference between the players shrunk week on week after Murray went on a winning tear. His confidence has been high since winning a second Wimbledon title, and then becoming the first tennis player to defend an Olympic tennis title.
Fatigue played its part as he lost the Cincinnati Masters final to Marin Cilic, and exited the US Open in the quarter-finals to Kei Nishikori, before being edged by a resurgent Juan Martin Del Potro in the Davis Cup semi-final.
The Asian swing was the key for Murray to catch up, as he was on an 18-match winning streak coming into the semi-final. His wins in Beijing, Shanghai and last week in Vienna meant the first pass at the World No. 1 ranking looked set to be a showdown between Murray and Djokovic – he has only one win this year against him (Rome Masters) was trails the Serbian 10-24 in their head to head.
There are, of course, many scenarios already in play for the year-end No. 1 ranking, but Murray can claim it with a win in London.
Murray  v John Isner – H2H: Murray leads 7-0
For the second time in as many weeks, Isner will face the Brit over the net. Isner has played some of his best tennis this week beating compatriot Jack Sock (and will be set to reclaim the mantle of US No. 1 after his run in Paris this week).
He reached his first Masters 1000 final of this season after ploughing through Djokovic’s conqueror Cilic, facing just one break points (duly saved) and was untouchable on his own serve. The American is title-less this year, but faces a fairly comprehensive head to head mountain to overcome.
Murray’s return is one of the best on the tour, and where Isner can usually count on free points on his serve, Murray nullifies with ease. Greeting the news of his ascension to the No. 1 spot with a public practice session, he will go into the final with none of the pressure that had been swirling through the various narratives.
It has not been the most straight forward progression for Murray – he was taken to three sets in his opener with Fernando Verdasco, and also had some testing matches on the way to the Vienna title. It is unlikely that Isner will score his first win on Sunday – but he may well nab a set off the World No. 1 in waiting.
Prediction: Murray in three sets.
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