Going into Paris Masters last week, Andy Murray needed to win the title if Novak Djokovic failed to reach the final or make the final if the Serb failed to progress into the semi-finals. As things panned out, Milos Raonic’s injury handed Murray the crown after Djokovic lost to Marin Cilic earlier. To make things sweeter for the Scot, he beat John Isner 6-3, 6-7, 6-4 in the final for his first Paris Masters title. He’s now won seven of the nine Masters events with only Indian Wells and Monte Carlo missing from his collection.
But with Murray’s ascent to the top, there are question marks over the direction Novak is taking ever since winning the French Open for his career Slam. Where Murray has been unstoppable since the grass season began by winning Queen’s, Wimbledon and then the gold medal at the Rio Olympics. The streak extended to 22 matches and was brought to an end by Cilic in Cincinnati.
Most recently, Murray is on yet another remarkable run after winning in Beijing, Shanghai, Vienna and now in Paris.
Meanwhile, Djokovic is on a downward spiral. His win-loss record after the Roland Garros win stood at 44-3 and now reads 61-8 with shocking third round loss to Sam Querrey at Wimbledon, first round loss to Juan Martin Del Potro in the Olympics, semi-final loss to Roberto Bautista Agut in Shanghai and last week the quarterfinal defeat to Cilic after remaining unbeaten (14-0) against the Croatian. Although, during this period, he’s won in Toronto and reached final of US Open (losing to Stan Wawrinka in the final).
But, Djokovic’s problems, arguably, don’t lie on the court. They lie away from it – in his personal relationships, uncertainty surrounding his teamwork with Boris Becker and his mental toughness that used to be his big assest. Now there are scenes of him tearing his shirt apart and succumbing to sportsmanship as was visible in his semi-final win over Gael Monfils at the US Open.
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”I psychologically felt huge pressure, and now I’m no longer thinking about the number of titles. If they come, super, I will accept them,” Djokovic had said at the end of September. ”After all, tennis is not the only thing in the world.”
So while it would be terribly unfair to question Murray’s rise to the top of the rankings, it won’t be incorrect to add in the same vein that Novak’s drop and a disappointing fall season has helped significantly to that.