October 10, 2016
Andy Murray claimed his fifth title of the year and the fortieth of his career with a clinical demolition of Grigor Dimitrov when it really mattered in Beijing.
The super Brit won 6-4, 7-6 (7-2) to lift the massive trophy and send a further warning to Novak Djokovic.
The Serb’s awesome form earlier in the year means he has put plenty of daylight between himself and Murray for now.
Djokovic is still imperious on 13, 540 points, despite his indifferent displays and injury problems of late.
Murray, for all his consistency, trails behind on 9,845 points. But make no mistake – that gap is closing.
And it should be a realistic ambition for Murray to set himself the target of becoming World Number One in 2017.
Djokovic, of course, will have plenty to say about that. And it is hard to imagine that his current slump, relative to his previous supreme dominance, will last indefinitely.
We’ll know more about Novak’s physical and mental condition in the next week or two.
What else should Murray be trying to achieve? Another 2017 target should be to lift the Australian Open at last, after that frustrating close-but-no-cigar run of final appearances.
And if he falters in Melbourne once more, there is no reason why Murray shouldn’t look to lift the French Open title instead, after reaching the final this year.
All these targets are incredibly difficult to achieve, of course – particularly if Djokovic comes back with a bang.
But when you’re number two and playing well, you have to push yourself that little bit harder. Murray is still in his prime but that may only hold true for the next year or two.
So, although 2016 has been a huge success story for him, 2017 could really see him cement his place among the best players in the history of the game.
If Andy needs any proof that those peak years don’t last forever, one glance at the new rankings should tell him all he needs to know.
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are now both out of the top four for the first time in 13 years.
As the changing of the guard takes place, Murray has the opportunity to seize the day.
Meanwhile Polish hero Agnieszka Radwanska is at number three in the women’s rankings, her position strengthened by a 6-4, 6-2 defeat of Johanna Konta in their China final.
Germany’s Angelique Kerber and Serena Williams of the USA remain comfortably above her at the very top, however.