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Andy Murray clinched his place in the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, but his work is not over yet, as he revealed in Paris this week.
Murray has a very dry sense of humour, and it was not without considerable mirth that observers watched him write “bad year” on the camera lens after he breezed past his Wimbledon conqueror Grigor Dimitrov to make the BNP Paribas Paris Masters.
But if fans and pundits expected Murray to coast and take it easy once he secured his place, then they really ought to know a lot better, as his next target is pushing back into the Top 5.
After electing to take off the end of last year after the US Open to have back surgery and work on his recovery, it has taken the Brit a fair bit of time to get himself back into form. Along the way he parted reluctantly with his influential coach Ivan Lendl and after a period of going it alone, with just his immediate entourage around him, he hired two-time Slam champion Amelie Mauresmo to be his new coach, and she was courtside for his epic win over Tommy Robredo for the Valencia title.
There are still challenges ahead – he has gradually started nibbling at higher ranked targets, having slipped out of the Top 10 for the first time since 2008, and hit the road for six continuous weeks, again for the first time since 2008.
He explained: “I still have a chance of getting maybe to No4 between now and the end of the year, which would be very important for the beginning of next year.”
Facing friend and rival Novak Djokovic next, he knows that this is still very much a work in progress for the last dying weeks of the main tour.
“It will be a tough match,” he said. “Novak has played some great tennis over the last few months. He won Wimbledon, and is No1 in the world again for a reason. He’s obviously going to be very motivated as well.
“Ever since the French Open I’ve played well but against the top guys you need something a bit extra,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll be able to find that now, and know what I need to do next year if I want to keep getting better.”
With Australian Open Stan Wawrinka still struggling to find the kind of form that took him to his maiden Grand Slam, his position in the World Top 4 may be in danger with a strong showing in Paris and London. More importantly, though, it will help him with the seedings for the start of 2015, and the build up to the first Slam of the year at the Australian Open.
Murray will face Djokovic on Saturday for a place in the Paris Masters semi-final.