Britain’s Andy Murray is one win from becoming world number one following Novak Djokovic’s surprise defeat by Marin Cilic at the Paris Masters.
Djokovic needed to reach the final to retain the top ranking but lost 6-4 7-6 (7-2) to Cilic in the quarter-finals.
Second seed Murray beat Czech Tomas Berdych 7-6 (11-9) 7-5 and will play France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Canadian Milos Raonic in Saturday’s semi-final.
Victory would see the Scot top the rankings for the first time.
- Relive Murray v Berdych
Murray claimed the first set after a thrilling tie-break in which he defended a total of seven set points, having at one stage been 6-1 down.
He immediately broke Berdych’s serve in the second set, and looked set to force home his advantage until, when serving for the match at 5-4, his opponent broke back.
However, Berdych failed to take advantage and his double fault handed the initiative back to Murray, who held his nerve for a sixth successive win over the 31-year-old.
“I played some good points in the tie-break and he played some bad ones. I just fought as hard as I could and served well in those moments,” Murray said.
“Maybe there were a few more nerves today knowing that the world number one was possible but once you are out there on court it didn’t bother me,” he told Sky Sports.
“I have never been in that position of playing for the world number one spot before so I don’t know how I will deal with it tomorrow.
“It can be tough for the 45 minutes or so before the match, but it was not my goal to get to world number one this year. I am just pleased with how I am playing over the latter half of this season.”
Murray’s semi-final is scheduled on court not before 15:30 GMT on Saturday.
Should he reach the final in Paris he will become the second-oldest player to debut at number one, after the 30-year-old Australian John Newcombe in 1974.
The Wimbledon champion would also set a record for the most time between becoming number two and number one, having first reached number two in 2009.
Eleventh seed Tsonga and fourth seed Raonic play later on Friday evening, with Croat Cilic and American John Isner to contest the other last-four tie.
‘Murray deserves it’ – Djokovic
Back in June, Djokovic beat Murray in the French Open final to complete a career Grand Slam. Now Murray is on the brink of ending the Serb’s 28-month run as world number one.
Cilic had lost all 14 of his previous matches against Djokovic but made all the running in their 15th meeting, breaking serve twice in the first set and denying the top seed when he served for the second set.
Djokovic saw off two match points with a volley and a forehand winner but could not contain the more aggressive Cilic in the tie-break.
Asked about Murray possibly overtaking him as number one, Djokovic said: “He’s definitely a player who deserves that.
“To see how he has raised his level in the last 12 months is quite extraordinary.
“We have known each other since very, very early days. We were, I think, 11 years old when we first played against each other. Undoubtedly, much respect for what he has done.”
Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/tennis/37872449