Defeated Murray remains at the top for Australian Open

Great Britain's Kyle EdmundGreat Britain's Kyle Edmund
Great Britain's Kyle Edmund
World No 1 Andy Murray has strengthened his position at the top of the rankings despite being beaten by Novak Djokovic in the final of the Qatar Open.

Murray took his place at the summit of the men’s game after a scintillating run in the second half of 2016 saw him usurp Djokovic and end the Serbian’s 122-week reign as the top player.

The Scot, knighted in the New Year’s Honours list, is tipped to dominate 2017 but Djokovic brought a sense of normality back when he won a thrilling three-set final in Doha on Saturday.

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However, despite that loss, Murray actually extended his lead at the top due to the nature of the rankings.

Djokovic won the title last year and was defending 250 points so his tally remains the same while because Murray played in the Hopman Cup – a non-ranking exhibition event – the 150 points he won for finishing runner-up is added to his total, extending the gap to 630 points.

Therefore, Murray is guaranteed to be No 1 seed for the Australian Open, which starts next week, though he will lose his crown to Djokovic if the Serbian retains his title in Melbourne and he does not make the semi-finals.

Kyle Edmund’s birthday celebrations were ruined as he was dumped out of the Apia International Sydney by qualifier Matthew Barton.

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The British No 2, who took a set off three-time grand slam winner Stan Wawrinka in Brisbane last week, turned 22 on Sunday but his party was cut short by the world No 198, who won the first-round encounter 7-6 (7/3) 7-6 (7/5).

The first set was a server’s paradise as Yorkshireman Edmund and Barton forced just one break point apiece, neither converted, which left the Australian to take the tie-break.

The second set was a similar story, but Edmund’s chance came when he earned a set point at 5-4, but Barton fought hard to hold his serve and then claimed the match in a second tie-break.

There was better news for British No 3 Dan Evans, who got past Thiago Monteiro in three sets. Evans triumphed 6-3 4-6 6-3 to regsiter his first win on the ATP Tour since the US Open last September.

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He broke twice on the way to a comfortable first set but then found the tables turned as the Brazilian broke twice to level it up.

A nervous final set saw two breaks exchanged, but when Evans got the decisive third it left him to serve it out for the match, which he did without problem.

Johanna Konta eased into the second round of the Apia International Sydney with a straight sets win over ‘lucky loser’ Arina Rodionova.

The British No 1, fresh from making the semi-final of the Shenzhen Open in China last week, got past the Australian 6-3 6-4 in sweltering conditions.

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Konta is building up for the Australian Open, where she made the semi-finals last year, and got the job done to set up a second round meeting with either Daria Gavrilova or Donna Vekic.

She made the decisive break of the first set to go 4-2 up before fending off two break-back points when serving out the set.

The second looked like being a far easier affair as she took Rodionova’s first three serves to lead 5-1 before suffering a minor wobble, which saw the world No 187 win three games on the bounce.

But Konta served it out at the second attempt as her good start to 2017 continued.