SHANGHAI: Andy Murray powered his way to a third Shanghai Masters title by beating Spanish 15th seed Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6 (7-1) 6-1 in Sunday’s final to close in on Novak Djokovic at the top of the world rankings.
Bautista Agut beat world number one Djokovic in the semi-final on Saturday but was brought back down to earth by three-time Grand Slam champion Murray, who converted all his four break points to wrap up the match in one hour 37 minutes.
The Wimbledon and Olympic champion is now on a 10-match winning streak in which he has won 20 straight sets, including last week’s similarly impressive victory at the China Open in Beijing.
But most importantly, the world number two slashes the gap to just 915 points from the out-of-sorts Djokovic in the Race to London rankings, with a chance of surpassing the Serb and finishing the year in top spot.
“I believe I can get there. I definitely believe I can get there. These last few months have proved that to me,” Murray said of the top ranking. “I may never get another chance to be number one, so I’ll give it my best shot to do that while I have the opportunity.”
Bautista Agut challenged Murray with his powerful forehands and sharp angles in the first set, keeping the second-seeded Scot on the defensive and forcing him to commit errors.
Serving for the set at 5-4, Murray appeared distracted by movement in the crowd and wasted three set points before Bautista Agut broke back to level the match. Murray settled down in the tiebreaker, however, and closed out the second set in just 31 minutes.
He had 16 unforced errors in the opening set, but only three after that.
“In the last few months, I have won a lot of matches and made improvements. I have been moving forward better and changed the direction of the ball better,” Murray told reporters. “I have also come up with some bigger serves when I have needed them.”