Murray continues charge to No. 1, Cilic enhances London bid

The possibility of Andy Murray becoming No. 1 in the world at the end of next week’s Paris Masters became very real on Sunday. Murray added 500 points to his haul when he defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3, 7-6(6) in the final of the Erste Bank Open.

By virtue of capturing his sixth title in the span of eight tournaments, the second-ranked Scot is now a mere 415 points behind Djokovic in the race to London. Murray still trails Djokovic by 1,915 points in the actual rankings, but the top-ranked Serb’s points from last year’s World Tour Finals also come off the board after Paris. Murray can become No. 1 if he wins the Paris title and defeats someone other than Djokovic in the final. He can also assume the top spot if he finishes runner-up and Djokovic loses prior to the semis.

“I think I played my best tennis today of the tournament,” Murray assessed after beating Tsonga. “Jo fought well and started playing a lot better (in the second set). He was more aggressive and taking some more chances and making the shots.”

“I’m really happy with my week,” Tsonga commented. “I played good tennis. I fought until the end, and that’s most important for me. It was nice to play five matches in a row like this.”

Tsonga can still qualify for the World Tour Finals if he wins the Paris title, while Marin Cilic improved his London position in a major way by triumphing at the Swiss Indoors Basel on Sunday. Cilic held all 10 of his service games to prevail in one hour and 37 minutes.

After getting blown out in the opening set, Nishikori managed to make things competitive in the second. In fact, the No. 3 seed even had three set points–his only break points of the match–with Cilic serving at 4-5. Cilic eventually held, forced a tiebreaker, and clinched victory when Nishikori double-faulted at 5-6.
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“I knew it was going to be important for me to start well,” said the 12th-ranked Croat. “Obviously it was a big match for me. Being in the final of a 500 tournament against someone like Kei, who has been playing good tennis during the week, I knew it was going to be important to have energy straight away. I was playing well in the first set with my shot-making, and I was serving smart. I felt that even during most of the second set I was playing well and creating opportunities for myself.”

“It was a good week for me, playing another final,” Nishikori reflected. “I had some good wins. It will be important to have another good week in Paris and again in London. That will be my last goal of the year.”

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