Andy Murray relishing the chance to be GB's first world No.1 ranked tennis star
It has taken a phenomenal run over the last seven months for Andy Murray to put himself within striking distance of the World No.1 ranking, but the Scot sees his journey on an even longer scale.
Murray, who at the end of this week's Paris Masters can overtake Novak Djokovic to become the first Briton to head the official world singles rankings, believes he is only now making up for the time he lost after undergoing back surgery three years ago.
When Murray won Wimbledon for the first time in 2013 he had won two Grand Slam titles and Olympic gold in the space of 10 months, but in September of that year he had a back operation. He was off the court for three months and then took time to rediscover his form.
"It set me back a lot and at the same time Novak improved," Murray said after arriving in Paris fresh from his third consecutive tournament victory in Vienna on Sunday.
"In that time Novak has had some of the best years in tennis history and obviously Roger (Federer) and Rafa (Nadal) were still playing very well.
"I wasn't able to get back quick enough to the level that I wanted to be. It's taken me quite a long time, but winning Wimbledon this year again was a big boost for me.
"To win one of the major competitions after a long time was important for me.
"I now feel like I'm back to where I was three years ago, before I had my surgery."
When the Serb beat the Scot in the French Open final in June he was 8,035 points clear at the top of the world rankings, but since then Djokovic has stumbled through injuries and off-the-court problems while Murray has been on the most consistently successful run of his life.
Murray, who meets Fernando Verdasco in his opening match here tomorrow, has reached the final in 10 of his last 11 tournaments, winning six, and will replace Djokovic as World No.1 if he wins the title here and his rival fails to reach the final.
Murray will also go to No.1 if he reaches the final and Djokovic fails to make the semi-finals.