Scotland’s Andy Murray won ATP Vienna over the weekend for what was his 7th title of the season. That’s an impressive total, and it includes wins in Rome, Shanghai, and Wimbledon. The totality of his entire season has put him close to the World No. 1 ranking as he does not trail Novak Djokovic by much in the ATP rankings any longer.
Djokovic and Murray are both in the draw for the 2016 Paris Masters, a tournament that is already underway. With 1000 ranking points going to the winner there is enough at stake to budge the Scot ahead. However, the World No. 1 ranking is not entirely on Murray’s racket this week. Even if he wins a title, then he still needs to hope that Djokovic slips up before making the final. There are numerous other scenarios involving various rounds of elimination for both players. However, as long as Djokovic is in the tournament in Paris there isn’t much need to visit those scenarios with speculation.
Despite his momentum, the Scot enters the Paris Masters at a disadvantage. He played four matches over last week in Vienna, including two that went the three-set distance. Furthermore, in the Vienna final against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Murray went deep into a second-set tiebreaker, winning only by the minimum. The Scot caught a bit of luck when David Ferrer withdrew from the semifinals, giving Murray an effortless walkover. But I think that fatigue might show up in the late rounds of Paris this upcoming week. En route to the final, he might face a better-rested Lucas Pouille, a better-rested Roberta Bautista-Agut or Tomas Berdych, and/or a better-rested Milos Raonic.
The Scot will have to dig deep in France, something that he is definitely capable of doing. There are few players that can win back-to-back titles on tour in back-to-back weeks. However, he’s definitely one of them. Earlier this month he won Beijing and then followed that up with a title in Shanghai the very next week.
For Djokovic, the odds of success aren’t so stacked against him if he’s not bothered by any kind of minor injury. A 100% healthy Serbinator should whip through his half of the draw with only two players looking like speed bumps. Stan Wawrinka shares a draw with Djokovic to the final while as does Marin Cilic. However, Cilic, much like Murray, isn’t necessarily fresh for Paris. The Croat played five matches in Basel last week that resulted in a title. Accordingly, I think Djokovic either goes out because of some kind of bothersome health concern or he loses to Wawrinka.
If the Serb does lose top spot, it would end a streak of 122 straight weeks on top of the rankings. Furthermore, it would halt a total count of 223 weeks for the time being. Djokovic is currently 5th on the all-time list for total weeks as the No. 1, a list that he has moved up considerably over the last two years. At present, he is nowhere near fourth-placed Jimmy Connors at 268 weeks.
Looking ahead, the World No. 1 ranking isn’t too likely to change hands in Paris in my view. However, the year-end ranking is definitely up for grabs when looking ahead at the ATP World Tour Finals. Murray doesn’t have Davis Cup considerations taking up his time right now like he did at this point last year. He should be ready for damage in London when the finals start on November 13th. I got him as the projected No. 2 seed in that event despite the opportunity in Paris this week.