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Murray set for No1 spot after outlasting Djoko in Paris

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By Robert Jones

Published 05/11/2016

On march: Andy Murray celebrates after defeating Tomas Berdych
On march: Andy Murray celebrates after defeating Tomas Berdych

Andy Murray stands one more win away from being crowned World No.1 for the first time after a straight-sets victory over Tomas Berdych at the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris.

Murray saved seven points in an extraordinary second set tie-break before eventually going on to overcome the Czech 7-6 (11-9) 7-5 and book his place in the semi-finals. Victory today over his next opponent - either Milos Raonic or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - will be enough to lift Murray to the summit after current rankings leader Novak Djokovic suffered a shock straight-sets loss to Marin Cilic.

Djokovic - for whom a place in his fourth consecutive final would have been enough to guarantee top spot for a 123rd consecutive week - was beaten 6-4 7-6 (7-2) by the feisty Croatian.

If Murray felt any extra pressure to perform after Djokovic's exit it did not show in a powerful opening set until the Czech seized control in the breaker, fashioning five set points after racing into a 6-1 lead.

But the Scot clawed his back to level at 6-6 and saved two more set points - one after a bizarre double-fault - before swatting away a fine forehand to finally put the opener to bed.

It seemed all over for Berdych when Murray roared out for the start of the second set and took advantage of his second break point to immediately break and move closer to victory.

Murray's ground strokes were having an effect on his opponent but, out of nowhere, Berdych grasped his last chance to break Murray back when he served for the match.

Murray brushed himself off and responded by immediately breaking back himself, then completed victory on his third match point opportunity after blasting down back-to-back aces.

Murray will now look to handle the added pressure surrounding his semi-final. Asked how he would cope, Murray said: "I don't know because I've never been in that position before so it's a new experience for me.

"Normally when you play big matches, once you step on court you feel fine. My goal isn't to get to number one this year. I was looking at the beginning of next year as the chance to do it.

"If it happens this week, great. I'm happy with the way I'm playing. It's been a great few months. I'll try to finish as best I can."

Djokovic's hold on the World No.1 position had looked increasingly precarious after he had required treatment on a knee injury on his way to an unconvincing last-16 win over Grigor Dimitrov on Thursday.

Cilic missed two break-point chances for a 2-0 lead in the second set and Djokovic broke to serve for it at 5-4. But the Serbian produced two double faults as he allowed Cilic to break back, before moving to the brink of defeat again when Cilic gained two match points at 6-5.

Djokovic saved both and forced a tie-break, but Cilic was didn't let his chance slip again.

Belfast Telegraph

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