Andy Murray, following a title run at ATP Basel last week, contested his third-round match at the 2016 Paris Masters earlier this week. He defeated Lucas Pouille handily in that contest, a result that I found a bit surprising given that Murray entered Paris without much preparation time. But then on Friday the Scot proved himself to be a man on a mission again as he defeated Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinal round. That result and developments on the other half of the draw make it quite plausible that Murray will be the No. 1 ranked played on Monday.
Novak Djokovic, a player who has struggled with injury in recent months, played Marin Cilic on Friday. Unfortunately for the Serb, the on-court struggles that he has endured through for several months continued. Cilic, who won Basel last week, has also played an impressive tournament in Paris this week. The Croatian defeated Djokovic in what was a reversal of one of the more lopsided active head-to-head series on the ATP Tour. Heading into Friday’s match Cilic was 0-14 against the Serb, a series that the Croatian improved to 1-14 with a 6-4, 7-6 victory on Friday.
If you’ve followed tennis this week then you know that the Djokovic loss creates a situation where Murray now has the World No. 1 on his racket. Heading into the tournament, that wasn’t the case as he needed to hope that Djokovic would lose ahead of the final to have any chance at getting to top spot in Paris. But with Djokovic now out the live ranking points are as follows:
Djokovic: 10780 points
Murray: 10545 points (includes points for making the Paris semifinals)
Difference: Murray trails Djokovic by 235 points
A semifinal finish in a Masters Series event is worth 360 ranking points while a runner-up finish is worth 600, a difference of 240 points. If Murray defeats Milos Raonic on Saturday, then the Scot would guarantee himself at least 10785 points with a berth in the final. Even if he should lose in the championship match to either John Isner or Cilic, Murray would be the new World No. 1 on Monday (i.e.,. Murray no longer needs to win the Paris title).
Raonic is certainly playing well enough to play the role of spoiler in Paris. However, his head-to-head series against Murray is one that has gone decisively in the Scot’s favor in 2016. Murray is 5-0 against the Canadian this season with big wins in the Australian Open semifinals and the Wimbledon final. In those five matches combined, Raonic has won just three sets.
Additional to the Murray/Djokovic tussle at the top of the rankings, there have been plenty of subplots in Paris this week. Cilic, who will have a new career-high ranking on Monday of either 6th or 7th, has qualified for the year-end tour finals. Berdych, on the other, needed a victory over Murray on Friday, one that the Czech failed to get. Meanwhile, Raonic eliminated Tsonga from London contention.
Saturday’s Order of Play makes the Raonic/Murray semifinal the late match. The two will face one another not before 4:30 pm local time.