Shanghai Masters: Andy Murray beats Roberto Bautista Agut to win title, closes in on top ranking
Shanghai: Andy Murray demolished Roberto Bautista Agut to win the Shanghai Masters without dropping a set as he edged closer to Novak Djokovic's world number one ranking on Sunday.
The Wimbledon and Olympic champion won seven points in a row in the first-set tie-break and he broke Bautista Agut three times in the second to win his third Shanghai title 7-6 (7/1), 6-1.
The rampant Murray 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, who was shocked by Spain's Bautista Agut in the semis.
"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."
Nineteenth-ranked Bautista Agut, who was playing his first Masters final, said it was clear how much Murray wanted to secure the top spot.
"I think I can see it in his eyes. He's really focused on getting number one," the Spaniard said.
'It's going to be tough'
Murray's first serve of the match was a thumping ace and he took a grip on the opening set at 3-3 when Bautista Agut netted a backhand to lose the first break point of the match.
But Murray, serving at 5-4, lost three set points and got in a tangle on a drop shot to hand the Spaniard his first break point, which he converted with a strong forehand.
The Briton slammed three consecutive aces for 6-6 and he dominated the tie-break, reeling off seven points in a row and taking the set with a sizzling backhand return.
A string of Bautista Agut errors put Murray a break up at the start of set two, but to his obvious frustration he gave it straight back with a miscued forehand.
But Bautista Agut twice double-faulted to go a break down before handing over yet another break, making victory a formality for Murray who tucked away his first championship point.
With his 41st tournament victory and sixth this year, Murray joins Stefan Edberg in joint 15th place on the list of Open-era title winners.
Of greater concern will be his place in the rankings as he draws ever closer to the imploding Djokovic, who has hit a rocky patch after a period of sustained dominance.
"I will try and finish this year as strong as I can. And next year if the opportunity is there to reach number one, then I want to try and take it," Murray said.
"But it's not going to be easy because Novak plays great tennis indoors, and also his record at the beginning of the year is phenomenal in Australia and Indian Wells, Miami.
"It's going to be a tough thing to achieve that. I'm aware of that. I'm close-ish right now, but it's going to be really tough still."
Zverev advanced to the fourth round, coming from behind in both sets to beat two time Olympic gold medal winner Murray 6-4, 7-6 (7/4)
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Andy Murray will next face either third-seeded Alexander Zverev or American Jenson Brooksby.
Victoria state premier Dan Andrews said he expected no exceptions from Australia's Covid-19 vaccine rules for players competing in January's Grand Slam.