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PARIS – By the end of the week, Andy Murray could become the top-ranked player in the world for the first time in his career.
Ever since he first reached No. 2 in the tennis rankings seven years ago, the 29-year-old Murray has been trying to catch the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. The No. 1 ranking is finally within touching distance, and he will replace Djokovic at the top if he wins the Paris Masters and Djokovic fails to reach the final.
Murray is trying not to think about it too much.
"It's not in my control ... Even if I win all of my matches this week, I still might not get there," Murray said Monday. "It's in Novak's hands.
"I don't feel any differently now to how I did six, eight weeks ago. My goal wasn't to finish No. 1 at the end of this year," Murray said. "There (was) a lot stronger chance of doing it in the early part of next year, which is what I (had) targeted — rather than this week."
Murray and Djokovic both have won seven titles this season — a career-best for Murray.
If he does reach the top, Murray would become the oldest first-time No. 1 since John Newcombe achieved it at the age of 30 in June 1974.
"I do deserve to be there," Murray said. "(The) last four or five months I have played the best of my career."
Murray, who lost to Djokovic in last year's Paris Masters final, faces Fernando Verdasco in the second round. He leads the Spaniard 11-1 overall.
Murray won the Erste Bank Open in Vienna on Sunday for his third straight tournament win while Djokovic's stellar form has dipped since winning the French Open for the first time in June.
The top-ranked Serb lost in the third round at Wimbledon to Sam Querrey and in the first round of the Olympics to Juan Martin del Potro.
After that, Stan Wawrinka rallied to beat Djokovic in the U.S. Open final, and two weeks ago Djokovic lost in the Shanghai Masters semifinals to Spanish player Roberto Bautista Agut.
"Wimbledon was obviously a bit of a surprise," Murray said. "Maybe one or two losses you wouldn't expect."
But Murray smiled when viewing Djokovic's slump from a different perspective.
"He's been in the final in New York, won (the Rogers Cup) and (reached) the semis of Shanghai," he said. "He's doing all right."
Wawrinka, who lost to Djokovic in the Paris Masters semifinals last year, is excited about the ongoing fight for No. 1.
"I'm looking forward to see what's going to be the result of Andy and Novak here, and in London (at the ATP finals)," Wawrinka said. "Novak just lost three matches in three tournaments. People talk. But for the rest, he always won."