Andy Murray succeeded in his quest on Thursday at the Paris Masters, while world No. 1 Novak Djokovic did not.
As a result, Murray is one match away from becoming the No. 1 player in the world for the first time.
Murray on Thursday in the quarterfinals in Paris stared down Tomas Berdych, defeating the Czech 7-6(9), 7-5, eliminating him from contention for the year-end ATP Finals.
On Saturday Murray needs to win his semifinal match over Milos Raonic to become No. 1. He has spent 76 weeks at the No. 2 spot.
“Getting to No. 1, like I said, is 12 months of work. Consistency. I have never done that before. In my career, I have had periods where I have been consistent for a few months at a time and then drop-offs. Whereas, this year, barring the month in March, I can’t have done much better than I had done,” Murray said. “I have put myself in a position to do something that takes a lot of consistency, a lot of concentration for a long period of time. I’m happy about that.”
Against Berdych, Murray was broken in the first set serving at 5-4 then had to come from 6-1 down in the breaker to regain control over the Czech who squandered seven set points in that breaker.
“I played some good ones, he played some bad ones on the set points, and I just fought as hard as I could,” Murray said of the tiebreak. “I served pretty well in those moments, better than him. There were a few net cords that went my way. I dealt with the double-fault well. It didn’t affect me.”
Murray has now won his last 18 matches.
Prior to Murray’s match, Djokovic’s No. 1 rank was in jeopardy following a 6-4, 7-6(2) loss to former US Open winner Marin Cilic. Cilic was 0-14 career against Djokovic entering the match.
“He definitely played better today, and he deserved to win,” said Djokovic, who gave up a break lead in the second set after some double-fault yips. “I wasn’t on the level that I could have been on. I was also…in a good position to take the match into the third set, and then two double faults. Just in important moments I wasn’t able to deliver.”
Djokovic, who had won Paris the last three years winning 17 straight, will now wait to see if Murray takes his No. 1 ranking. “All I can say is that he’s deservedly in the position he’s in at the moment,” Djokovic said.
Cilic in the semis will meet unseeded American John Isner, who beat unseeded countryman Jack Sock 7-6(6), 4-6, 6-4.
“Very tough match. Certainly could have gone either way,” Isner said. “I thought I played very well. I’m happy to move on.”
Isner is seeking his first title of the season.
“Up to this point I have been very disappointed with how I have played this year,” Isner said. “But I think I have turned a corner. I have a very good team on my side. I am relaxed, but I also know going into this event I have played well here before quite a lot of times. I made the quarterfinals last year and made the semifinals.”
Home favorite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga couldn’t make the weekend as the Frenchmen fell to Milos Raonic 6-2, 7-6(4). Murray leads Raonic 8-3 including a win in the Wimbledon final.
“If it doesn’t happen tomorrow, it can still happen in a few months, which is when I thought I’d have a better chance of doing it,” Murray said. “But obviously I’d love to do it tomorrow if I can.”
SATURDAY PARIS SCHEDULE
COURT CENTRAL start 11:45
H. Kontinen (FIN) / J. Peers (AUS) vs  M. Melo (BRA) / V. Pospisil (CAN)
Not Before 14:00
 M. Cilic (CRO) vs J. Isner (USA)
Not Before 16:30
 M. Raonic (CAN) vs  A. Murray (GBR)
 P. Herbert (FRA) / N. Mahut (FRA) vs  R. Bopanna (IND) / D. Nestor (CAN)
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