Great Britain’s Andy Murray celebrated his ascension to world number one by beating American John Isner 6-3, 6-7(4-7), 6-4 to win his first Paris Masters title.
After double-faulting on the first point of the first game, Murray soon brought his a-game, breaking for a 4-2 lead, and showing watertight defence to close the door on Isner.
Murray managed only six points on his opponent’s serve in the set, but that was enough to take it in 35 minutes. The unseeded Isner continued to put pressure on Murray, showing an increasing deftness at the net to take the second set to a tie-break.
And the 31-year-old had too much for the Scot in the decider, serving imperiously to take the breaker 7-4.Twice in Isner’s first two service games of the third set Murray saw break points snatched away by his opponent’s huge serve.
But Murray was not to be denied, and he finally forced a break at 5-4, firing in a rapid backhand that Isner could only dig into the net, to take the third set and the match.
The victory brought Murray his sixth ATP title, in a memorable 2016 where he also added his second Olympic and Wimbledon titles on his way to the top of the rankings this year.
He will be officially confirmed as Britain’s first singles number one since computerised rankings were introduced in 1973.
Murray’s place as the new leader in men’s tennis had been confirmed by Milos Raonic’s withdrawal from Saturday’s semi-final with a leg injury, but the hype around his accomplishment did nothing to knock his concentration.
He now heads to the season-ending World Tour Finals as top seed for the first time.
However, should previous number one Novak Djokovic wins every match at the Finals he could reclaim the top ranking he held for 122 weeks.