Murray beats Berdych to close in on top spot

Andy Murray is one match away from becoming world number one for the first time after beating Tomas Berdych in straight sets at the Paris Masters.

Marin Cilic's victory over incumbent Novak Djokovic earlier on Friday means Murray can displace the Serbian at the top of rankings by reaching the final of the ATP Masters-level tournament. 

And after winning 7-6 (11-9) 7-5 in the French capital, the 29-year-old now has a semi-final against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Milos Raonic to negotiate if he is to become the first Briton to top the pile of men's players since the inception of computerised rankings in 1973.

Murray reached second in the world for the first time in 2009 and has since won three grand slam singles titles, two Olympic golds and the Davis Cup, but had been unable to break the stranglehold of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic, who are the only three men to have occupied top spot since February 2004. 

A tight first set saw both players dominate on serve, winning easy points and controlling the rallies to hold throughout and send the opener to what proved to be a gripping 15-minute tie-break.

Murray, perhaps demonstrating how much the greater prize on offer means to him, showed impressive resilience to recover from 6-1 down, saving seven set points and ultimately winning the prolonged breaker by coming to the net and firing a piercing wide forehand that left Berdych helpless.

Carrying that momentum into the second set, the Brit put his exceptional defensive abilities to good use, forcing Berdych into long rallies and prompting a series of mistakes that saw the Czech broken first up. 

While that earned Murray the edge, he was forced to dig deep again when Berdych broke to level at 5-5.

Undeterred, the two-time Wimbledon champion broke back immediately and then held, as Berdych proved unable to derail his opponent's quest to conquer the standings.

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