2016 has been quite a year for Andy Murray, who just became the world’s No. 1-ranked men’s tennis player.
First there was the historic second Wimbledon title in July. Andy Murray followed that momentous occasion with a gold medal at the Rio Olympics, becoming the only man in tennis ever to win two Olympic golds. He also made it to 12 finals, winning eight, and achieved a personal record of 73 wins.
Now, seven years after the day he first made it to world No. 2, Great Britain’s Murray is the new No. 1 player in men’s tennis.
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And he did all this after the birth of his 9-month-old daughter, Sophia. 2016 has been Andy Murray’s year.
In fact, it’s been quite a full 12 months for the Scotsman. Just one year ago he helped Great Britain win its very first Davis Cup title. In December of last year he was also voted BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year for the second time.
However, most of the 29-year-old’s incredible achievements came about in the last five months. 2016 started out like many of the last three years, with Novak Djokovic clinching the first grand slam of the year in Australia (his sixth) by beating Murray in three straight sets. In the spring of this year it was said that the Serbian had amassed so many ranking points that world No.’s 2 and 3 (Murray and Roger Federer, respectively) wouldn’t be able to overtake him if they were to COMBINE their points! Murray was 8,000 points behind.
The change in ranking despite the year starting out like another Nole slam-dunk
Murray and Djokovic met again at this year’s next grand slam, in Roland Garros, with the same result. Djokovic’s French victory made him the reigning champion of all four grand slams, dubbed the “Nole Slam.” With La Coupe des Mousquetaires trophy, the former world No. 1 became the third player in history to hold all four grand slam titles at the same time, the eighth player to achieve the Career Grand Slam, and the first to win $100 million in prize money. Djokovic had held the dominant rating for 122 consecutive weeks and 221 total weeks. By June, the right-hander had nearly doubled his ranking points and looked unstoppable. This was how the first half of 2016 looked.
By all accounts, going into Wimbledon, it looked like the 29-year-old Serb would continue his winning streak, but it all ended after he exited the British tournament in the fourth round. He rallied at the Roger’s Cup at the start of the hard court season with a tournament title, but then suffered the first of many successive setbacks including a first round loss at the Summer Olympics to Juan Martin del Potro but made it to the finals at the US Open, the last Grand Slam of the year, only to lose to Federer’s Swiss compatriot, Stan Wawrinka, in four sets.
Murray made a run for the new ranking in the summer
In the meantime, starting this summer, GB’s Murray has been achieving career highlights in a slow, steady manner. He’s been a bit of a late bloomer, but the accomplishments have been well worth the wait. The signs were there right after Djokovic’s last Grand Slam victory at the French. Murray lost to Djokovic in the Madrid final in May, but avenged himself in Rome against the Serb by winning the title.
Although he lost to the former No. 1 in the French Grand Slam final a few weeks later, the grass season began a resurgent time period for Britain’s best. He won his fifth Queen’s Club title and his second Wimbledon title (and third slam) on home turf. With his second gold medal, the Rio Olympics capped off a highly successful summer season, a harbinger of what was to come.
Although he didn’t make it past the quarters in the last grand slam of the year, Murray made the most of his post-US Open season by winning in the finals of everything he entered after the US Open including the China Open, Shanghai Masters, Vienna Open and the Paris Masters. Continuously under the radar, he didn’t need the Paris title to retain the No. 1 ranking, but the win on Sunday (against John Isner) confirmed an extremely successful end of season performance that will only make a strong case for him ending the year with the top ranking. He is the second oldest to debut in the ranking. It took Murray seven years to get to this point, the longest of any man in men’s tennis, to go from No. 2 to the top spot. He spent 76 weeks at No. 2. And he’s done it in the golden age of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic, the only man since 2004 to do so.
“The year I’ve had to have to barely get there has been unbelievably difficult. I’ve had to work extremely hard,” Murray told BBC Sport.
Love among the tennis community, including Federer calling Murray ‘new king’
Murray is well-loved in the sport and the accolades started pouring in as soon as the announcement was made on Saturday.
It has not been an easy road. As coach Jamie Delgado told BBC Sport: “There were a few gentle tears and a big hug — there was a bit of shock in there as well … It’s amazing. It’s been an unbelievable year. Looking back to March, April time, he lost a bit of confidence, and motivation was down a little bit because he had fallen far behind Novak already — number one wasn’t in our thoughts really.”
Tennis legend Martina Navratilova weighed in on BBC Radio. “Considering how few people have had it in the last 16 years since Roger Federer first took it, it’s a major accomplishment indeed. It’s a pretty exclusive club.” She continued, “The fact that it came this late in his playing career just tells you how determined and focused he is. It’s a testament to his character.”
Congratulations @andy_murray for reaching the pinnacle of our sport- #1!!! And that's not a hash tag- that is #1:). ????
The world No. 1 now holds three grand slams, two gold medals (a record he holds alone) and a Davis Cup title. He will next compete in the London ATP World Tour finals in a week, where he stands a good chance of winning.