World number one Andy Murray says he climbed to the top through hard work
New world number one Andy Murray put his ascent to the top of tennis down to years of hard work.
The Scot needed to reach the final of the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris to topple Novak Djokovic as the world's best player and found his route much easier than planned.
Murray had been expecting a rerun of his Wimbledon final with Milos Raonic, but instead practised alone in front of the crowd after the Canadian withdrew with a leg injury.
While robbing the French fans of an eagerly-anticipated afternoon, it catapulted 29-year-old Murray into a spot he has chased all his career.
"It feels a little bit strange how it's happened today and obviously unfortunate that Milos is injured," Murray said.
"To get to this stage is about 12 months of tournaments. The last few months have been the best of my career and I'm very proud to get to this moment."
Those 12 months have included a second Wimbledon title and a retention of his Olympic gold, part of seven tournament wins overall.
He will meet John Isner in Sunday's final, an eighth of the season.
"I feel like getting to number one, it wasn't about this week, or about last week. It's been many years of work to get here," he added.
"The most satisfying thing is it's been such a difficult thing to do in my career.
"In the beginning of my career, I always wanted to win a Grand Slam, but now that I've gotten older, getting to number one was something I have tried to do.
"I needed to improve my consistency and the last couple of seasons I have done that. I'm happy to have done that."
Djokovic was considered virtually untouchable at the start of the year and wins over Murray in the finals of the Australian and French Opens did little to temper that.
But after reuniting with former coach Ivan Lendl, Murray took off in pursuit of the spot Djokovic had occupied for 122 weeks.
He won at Queen's and Wimbledon and then in Rio, Beijing, Shanghai and Vienna.
His ascent to the number one spot will be completed when the new rankings are live on Monday and in doing so he will become the first British male to top them since their introduction in 1973.
Speaking in the French capital, Raonic said his leg injury could now affect his participation in the season-ending Tour finals in London.
"Yesterday I started feeling something in my leg, this morning I had trouble getting out of bed," he said.
"I did an MRI and they found I have a grade one tear in my right quad and I am not able to compete."
Isner will be Murray's final appointment after a 6-4 6-3 win over Marin Cilic.