PARIS, France, Nov 5 – Andy Murray can depose Novak Djokovic as world number one on Saturday but the British star insists he won’t let the pressure of the historic occasion knock him off course.
The 29-year-old Wimbledon and Olympic champion will take over top spot in the rankings if he defeats Canada’s Milos Raonic in the Paris Masters semi-finals.
His path opened up on Friday after he saved seven set points in an extraordinary opening tie-break before clinching a 7-6 (11/9), 7-5 win over Tomas Berdych in the quarter-finals.
Earlier, 12-time major winner Djokovic had lost 6-4, 7-6 (7/2) to Croatia’s Marin Cilic, a defeat which looks likely to end the Serb’s 122-week reign on top of the ATP world rankings.
“Before the match there were a few more nerves maybe than there was earlier in the week. But once I got out there, I didn’t feel any different to any other match,” said Murray.
“If it happens this week, great. But if not, I’m not putting any extra pressure on myself this week because I still think I have an opportunity to do it in the future.
“But obviously I’d love to do it Saturday if I can.”
Cilic had lost all 14 previous meetings with Djokovic but snapped that miserable run with his victory.
Djokovic, the record four-time Paris champion, arrived in the French capital needing to reach the final to ensure he remained ahead of a rapidly approaching Murray.
But the Serb’s challenge fizzled out against an in-form Cilic, the 2014 US Open champion.
“Credit to Marin and congratulations. He definitely played better today, and he deserved to win,” said 29-year-old Djokovic.
“I wasn’t on the level that I could have been on. Obviously, there are things I could have done better. And just in important moments I wasn’t able to deliver.”
Despite his disappointment, Djokovic will have another chance to convince he is far from in decline at the World Tour Finals in London next week.
“The drop of form is normal in sports. I’m not too concerned about how the future will go for me,” said the Serb, who has appeared a shadow of his former self since wrapping up a maiden French Open title in June which allowed him to clinch a career Grand Slam.
“You can’t always expect to win. In terms of what the future brings to me, that’s not in my hands. I’m going to obviously keep playing at this level as long as I feel like that’s the right thing for me.”
American John Isner faces Cilic in last four after he outlasted compatriot Jack Sock 7-6, (8/6), 4-6, 6-4.
Raonic defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-2, 7-6 (7/4) in the late quarter-final, a result which allowed Austria’s Dominic Thiem to tie up the eighth and last spot in the World Tour Finals next week.