Andy Murray says he feels “very proud” to become the first British singles player to be world number one since computerised rankings began in 1973. The Scot, 29, needed to reach the final of the Paris Masters to replace Novak Djokovic – and did so when Milos Raonic pulled out before their semi-final.
Murray won Wimbledon and Olympic gold in 2016, reached 11 finals in 12 events and won a personal record 73 matches.
“I never thought I’d be number one in the world,” he told BBC Sport. “It’s been many years of work to get here. It’s been such a difficult thing to do because of how good the guys around me have been.”
Murray, who has won three Grand Slam titles, two Olympic gold medals and helped Britain win the Davis Cup in 2015, will be officially confirmed as world number one when the revised rankings are released tomorrow.
Novak Djokovic had topped the rankings for 122 weeks, and completed his career Grand Slam by beating Murray in the French Open final in June, his 12th major title.
Djokovic also won this year’s Australian Open, and Murray said: “The year that Novak has had, barring the last six weeks or so, has been incredible. The year I’ve had to have to barely get there has been unbelievably difficult. I’ve had to work extremely hard.”
Roger Federer (17) and Rafael Nadal (14) have won a combined 31 Grand Slam titles, many coinciding with Murray’s rise through the rankings.
He will play John Isner in today’s Paris Masters final, after Raonic pulled out with an injury to his right quad. Isner beat Marin Cilic 6-4 6-3 in the semi-finals.
Djokovic, 29, would have retained his number one ranking had he reached the final – but Cilic beat him in the quarter-finals on Friday.
A player’s ranking is determined by his best 18 tournament results over the preceding 52 weeks. Murray is the second-oldest player to debut at number one behind John Newcombe, who was 30 years and 11 days old when he achieved the feat in 1974.
Murray holds the record for the longest time between first becoming number two and becoming number one – seven years and over two months.
His seven stints at number two are tied with Mats Wilander and Stefan Edberg for the longest in the ATP’s database of week-by-week records, which goes back to June 1984.
Seven players since June 1984 have never become number one after becoming number two: Michael Stich, Goran Ivanisevic, Michael Chang, Petr Korda, Alex Corretja, Magnus Norman and Tommy Haas.