Andy Murray admits his proximity to world No 1 Novak Djokovic in the rankings has caused him to reassess his short-term targets.
A straight-sets victory in the final of the Shanghai Masters over Roberto Bautista Agut, winning 7-6 (7/1) 6-1 in 96 minutes, gave the Scot his sixth title of the year.
More importantly it moved him to within 915 points of Djokovic, who lost to Bautista Agut in the semi-finals on Saturday.
With Murray currently in top form, having won 20 sets in succession following on from his victory at the China Open in Beijing a week ago, he has now set his sights on the Serbian’s position at the top of the rankings – although he admits overhauling the 12-time grand slam winner will be difficult.
“My goal wasn’t to finish as No 1 at the end of this year but in the early parts of next year there is an opportunity – 900 points doesn’t seem like loads,” he said following his comfortable victory. “But Novak will win matches.
“He is the best player in the world still and I don’t think he has lost an indoor (match) in a long time.”
Murray’s form is on an upward curve and the Brazil Olympic gold medallist is pleased with how changes to his game have made a difference.
“In the last few months, I have won a lot of matches and made improvements,” he added.
“I have been moving forward better and changed the direction of the ball better. I have also come up with some bigger serves when I have needed them.”
Murray’s victory in Shanghai was his 41st career title and achieved with very little fuss once he had comfortably negotiated a first set tie-break.
Things went with serve until Murray broke his Spanish opponent to take a 4-3 lead but when Bautista Agut broke back and then made it 6-5, Murray took the first set to a tie-break with a love game.
He cruised through the tie-break 7/1 to make it 19 sets won in a row before three breaks of service, to his opponent’s one, in the second set eased the Briton into a 5-1 lead from where he closed out the match with a number of 100mph second serves and powerful groundstrokes.
Elsewhere, Caroline Wozniacki beat Kristina Mladenovic in three sets at the Hong Kong Open to win her second title of the year.
The fifth-seeded Dane stormed through the first set but lost the second on a tie-break before eventually clinching a 6-1 6-7 (4/7) 6-2 win in two hours and 40 minutes.
Wozniacki, the former world No 1 now ranked 22nd, broke her French opponent’s serve twice to take a one-sided opening set, which ended when Mladenovic fired a backhand return wide.
She broke twice more in the second, including in the first game, only for Mladenovic to respond in kind and force a breaker which she won when Wozniacki chased down a deft drop-shot but hit her forehand long.
It was a temporary reprieve though and, having already broken twice in the deciding set, Wozniacki clinched the match with a searing backhand return to Mladenovic’s feet which the French player could only parry into the net.
“It’s really an amazing tournament and we love coming here,” said Wozniacki afterwards.
“It’s not my first time in Hong Kong and definitely not my last, I’m looking forward to coming back. Kristina, good week this week, I’m sure there’ll be many more matches between us in the future.”
Mladenovic said: “I gave it all I had, not a lot of energy left and everything hurts.
“I’ve never seen such a crowd, if you weren’t there I think I would probably have given up.”
In China’s Tianjin Open, wild card Peng Shuai gave the home crowd reason to celebrate with a straight-sets win over Alison Riske in the final.