Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Murray moves closer to top spot

Published:Monday | October 31, 2016 | 10:00 AM
Andy Murray reacts during the final match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the Erste Bank Open tennis tournament in Vienna, Austria, yesterday. Murray won 6-3, 7-6 (6).

VIENNA (AP):

Andy Murray closed in on the No. 1 ranking by winning his third straight ATP title at the Erste Bank Open yesterday.

The Scot can overtake Novak Djokovic atop the ATP rankings next week if he wins the Paris Masters and the Serb doesn't reach the final.

"I get a step closer with every win, but it's still a long way from here," Murray 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."

In yesterday's final, Murray defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3, 7-6 (6) for his personal-best seventh title of the season, and 42nd overall. Djokovic has also won seven events this year.

"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 obviously, it's nice to win my seventh tournament," Murray said. "A lot of them have come in the last few months. After the Australian Open, I struggled a little bit for a couple of months, but the last few months have been very good."

Murray extended his unbeaten streak to 15 matches after also winning in Beijing and Shanghai.

"I think I played my best tennis of the tournament today. That's pleasing, obviously, as you want to improve as an event goes on," he said.

The 15th-ranked Tsonga, who was the 2011 champion, appeared in his first final of the season, which has been marred by adductor and left knee injuries.

GREAT WEEK

"It was a positive week for me. It was very good to be in the final," Tsonga said. "I played good tennis. It was nice to play five matches in a row. It hasn't happened many times these last couple of months."

Murray advanced to the final after defending champion David Ferrer pulled out with a left leg injury, while Tsonga saved a match point in his 2 1/2-hour semi-final against Ivo Karlovic on Saturday.

Murray, who also won in Vienna on his only previous visit in 2014, dominated yesterday's final from the start. He raced into a 3-0 lead by taking 14 of the first 19 points of the match.

He avoided break points in his games, and missed a set point on the Frenchman's serve at 5-2 but clinched the opening set the next game with his second ace.

Murray conceded just two points on his way to a 2-0 lead in the second set. but started to struggle with his first serve as his percentage dropped to 18 halfway through the second set.

He hit a forehand long on the only break point for Tsonga to help the Frenchman level at 4-4.

Murray missed his first match point in the tiebreaker as he netted a forehand return, but closed out the win on his second chance with an ace.