Andy Murray took a step closer to overtaking Novak Djokovic as the world No1 by winning his third successive title at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna. He defeated the Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3, 7-6 in the final to add to the titles he won in Beijing and Shanghai this month.
Murray can top the rankings for the first time on 7 November if he wins the Paris Masters event and Djokovic fails to reach the final.
“I get a step closer with every win but it’s still a long way from here,” he said. “From two to one seems a small jump in a way but it’s the hardest one to make. To go from 100 to 50 is more spots but is a lot easier.
“I was thinking more about how you are going to win the match rather than what it would mean if you did win it but it’s nice to win my seventh tournament. A lot of them have come in the last few months. After the Australian Open I struggled a little bit but the last few months have been very good.”
It has been a remarkable six months for Murray, who has won seven titles, the most in a season in his career. He has lost only three matches since the French Open in June. His 15th victory in a row did not look in any doubt for a set and a half. Tsonga, who had won only two of 15 matches against Murray, was broken in his opening service game and made far too many errors.
He was staring at a heavy defeat at 1-3 and 0-40 down in the second set but played some fine points to hold serve. It proved the catalyst for a revival from Tsonga, who recovered the break and forced a tie-break. The British No1 prevailed, the 29-year-old clinching victory with his fifth ace on his second match point.
Murray also won the title in Vienna in 2014 but in very different circumstances as he battled to qualify for the ATP World Tour Finals. Speaking at the presentation ceremony, Tsonga said: “Next week he has the chance to be No1, I hope it will be the case, except if I play against him in Paris.”
Marin Cilic boosted his chances of joining Murray at the O2 next month by defeating Kei Nishikori 6-1, 7-6 in the final of the Swiss Indoors in Basel. The Croatian had to save a set point in the second set before coming out on top in a tie-break. Cilic stands in the final qualifying spot for the end-of-season showpiece and has a lead of 210 points over the ninth-placed Tomas Berdych.