Murray: "I'm Very Proud"
Andy Murray made history on Saturday at the BNP Paribas Masters, becoming the 26th player to ascend to World No. 1 of the Emirates ATP Rankings. Murray entered the ATP's most elite club after fourth seed Milos Raonic withdrew ahead of their semi-final meeting with a muscle tear in his right leg. He will play for a 14th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title against John Isner on Sunday in Paris.
Murray, who halted Novak Djokovic's reign of 122 consecutive weeks atop the Emirates ATP Rankings, is the first Briton to achieve the feat and second-oldest first-time No. 1 (Newcombe). The 29 year old has work to do to become year-end No. 1 and will battle Djokovic for the honour at what is shaping to be a thrilling Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
"It feels a little bit strange how it's happened today and obviously unfortunate that Milos is injured," Murray said. "To get to this stage is about 12 months of tournaments to get to this stage. The last few months have been the best of my career and I'm very proud to get to this moment.
"In the beginning of my career, I've always wanted to win a Grand Slam, but now that I've gotten older, getting to No. 1 was something I have tried to do. I needed to improve my consistency and the last couple of seasons I have done that. I'm happy to have done that.
"I have to give a lot of credit to Jamie Delgado who, to get to No. 1 it takes a full year's work, and he's been there for every tournament. He's been there every single day working with me from the beginning of this year. You know, he deserves a lot of credit for the work that he's done with me, as well, this year."
"It's something I have never achieved before and wasn't something that I necessarily felt like I was going to do even this year, even after the French Open or the beginning of the year," Murray added. "I was so far behind in terms of points and the amount of matches it would take me to win. I never expected to do what I had done after the French Open, so I was really down after I lost that match.
"But things can turn around quickly in this sport and it's just a strange sport. You had Novak losing yesterday to a guy who he won 14 times in a row against. And then John beating Cilic today who he'd lost six in a row against the following day. Stuff can turn around quick and the last few months have been really good."
"If I get defaulted in the match tomorrow, I don't think I get the points from this week. So I need to make sure I'm on my best behavior," Murray joked. "Keep my racquet in my hands, and all will be well on Monday."
Murray will look to extend his dominant 7-0 mark in his FedEx ATP Head2Head against Isner, when they clash in the final match of the ATP World Tour regular season on Sunday. The new World No. 1 won both their 2016 encounters, on the clay of Roland Garros and two weeks ago at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna. Last year's Paris runner-up, Murray is bidding to lift the trophy at a seventh different ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event overall and third this season, having prevailed in both Rome and Shanghai.
"That's the most satisfying thing," Murray said, referring to finally breaking the stranglehold of Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. "It's been such a difficult thing to do during my career because of how good the guys around me have been, the guys ahead of me.
"Even this year, the year I have had to have to even be there for one week and be like 20 points ahead, I have had to win so many matches and get to the latter stage of pretty much every tournament that I have played. It's just been really, really hard to do it, been really difficult. Obviously they are three of the best players that have ever played the game and had some of the years that they have had in that period, as well, have been ridiculous, really. So it's taken a great year to get there."
Raonic, finalist in Paris in 2014 (l. to Djokovic), was slated to face Murray for the sixth time this year, but revealed he had suffered a leg injury in Friday's quarter-final victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
"Yesterday at 4-2 in the first set I started feeling some pain in my leg," Raonic told the assembled media in Paris. "I didn't think too much of it at that point. This morning I had trouble waking up and getting out of bed, so we did some tests. I had an MRI half an hour ago and they found that I have a Grade 1 tear in the right quad. Unfortunately, I'm not able to compete against Andy."