Andy Murray is hoping to continue his excellent form by usurping Roger Federer as the number three ranked tennis player in the world.
The Scot has won 21 of his past 22 matches, taking titles in Cincinnati, Bangkok and Tokyo. His only loss during that period came against Spain’s Rafael Nadal in the US Open semi-finals.
The pair are hot favourites to meet in the final of this week’s Shanghai Masters in the absence of world number one Novak Djokovic and 16-time Grand Slam winner Federer.
“Just been working hard,” said the 24-year-old. “Yeah, went into this stretch with the right mindset. You know, after the US Open finished, sat down, kind of made some goals between now and the end of the year, gave myself that extra little motivation, that extra little push for the last few tournaments.”
Murray, currently ranked number four, allowed Nadal a mere four points in the deciding set in Tokyo on Sunday, coming from behind to win 3-6, 6-2, 6-0.
“What happened in the third set, it probably never happened to him before, and I’ll probably never play a set of tennis again like that on the tour,” said Murray, whose career-high ranking is number two.
“I think I lost four or five points. That’s probably not going to happen to me again. It’s just one of those sets where I hardly missed a ball. I wish it happened every day, but the reality is it’s not going to be like that.”
Shanghai top seed and world number two Nadal, who has a 13-5 winning career record over Murray, said the Scot had never played better against him.
“He played fantastic. No mistakes. Winners from every place,” he said.
Nadal played down suggestions that the men’s game had moved onto a different level this year, saying his form and that of Federer had dipped.
“Djokovic this year already won a lot of tournaments, three Grand Slams, he didn’t lose matches. Don’t believe that he changed his game… He did a few small things better than a few years ago and that’s why his big success this year.”
“I think the level, no, wasn’t better than 2010 or 2009. I think it was similar. For my part and Roger’s part a little bit worse for the moment,” he added.
Both Murray and Nadal have byes into the second round of the Shanghai Masters.