ATP Tour

Murray calm ahead of final ascent bid

 Andy Murray (Getty)
Andy Murray (Getty)

Paris - Andy Murray insisted on Monday he felt no additional pressure ahead of his quest to wrest away the world's top ranking from long-time incumbent Novak Djokovic at this week's Paris Masters.

Murray can supplant Djokovic at the summit by claiming a first title in the French capital if the Serb fails to reach the final of an event he has dominated in recent times.

The Briton has won three successive tournaments -- Beijing, Shanghai and Vienna -- to close in on Djokovic and would become the oldest new number one since Australia's John Newcombe in 1974.

But the 29-year-old said his approach would remain the same and vowed to block out the hysteria surrounding his potential ascent to the top.

"It's not in my control. I can obviously try and win my matches, but even if I win all of my matches this week, I still might not get there," said Murray.

"So it's in Novak's hands. He's ahead obviously just now, so if he wins his matches and gets to the latter stages of the last two tournaments, then he'll most likely keep the No. 1 spot.

"So I don't feel any differently now to how I did kind of six, eight weeks ago. My goal wasn't to finish No. 1 at the end of this year.

"I wanted to finish this year as strong as possible, and I think there is a lot stronger chance of doing it in the early part of next year, which is what I targeted rather than this week."

Murray, who received a first-round bye, will begin his Paris campaign against former world number seven Fernando Verdasco, after the Spaniard progressed following the retirement of Dutchman Robin Haase.

The Wimbledon champion is riding a 15-match winning streak and lifted his career-best seventh title of the season following Sunday's straight-sets victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Austria.

"This year I have been healthy the whole year, and the last four or five months I have played the best of my career," Murray added, dismissing concerns over fatigue despite his recent winning run.

"I feel fine. I had a break after Shanghai, which I needed, and didn't hit any balls until I arrived in Vienna.

"And then obviously I got the walkover (in the semi-finals) on Saturday which helped, so it was pretty much a rest day. And then, yeah, the final wasn't too long yesterday, either. I feel okay."

Murray owns an impressive 69-9 record in 2016 and is just two wins shy of last year's win total, but he was swept aside convincingly by Djokovic in last year's Paris final.

The Serb admitted Murray's late assault on his number one ranking had rejuvenated his own faltering season as he looks to extend his 122-week stay at the top.

After completing a career Grand Slam at the French Open, Djokovic crashed out prematurely at Wimbledon and the Rio Olympics and was then beaten by Stan Wawrinka in the US Open final.

He has fond memories in France, though, and will attempt to win a fourth consecutive Paris Masters crown to keep Murray waiting.

"It makes me want to go on court and fight for every point because there is something to win at the end," said the 12-time major winner.

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