When Andy Murray held the spidery tree sculpture — the trophy at the Paris Masters — early November, you could see the sparkle in his eyes.
On the eve of his official elevation to the top spot, Murray was irresistible in the Paris final against John Isner, who put up a great fight but still fell short, losing 6-3, 6-7, 6-4.
Normally, when you win a trophy, you look at the metal, adore it, worship it. It is everything you have fought for. But Murray wasn’t really worshipping the trophy. He was worshipping his tennis career.
Murray may have reached the pinnacle of his career in a rather anti-climactic way, but he’ll take that over being the second best any day. He became World No. 1 without a ball being struck, via a walkover against his intended semi-final opponent Milos Raonic.
It is said to become king is one thing, but to continue ruling is perhaps a more difficult task. To end the year as World No. 1, Murray had to match Novak Djokovic at the season-ender ATP World Tour finals late November.
And what did he do? He completely outplayed the Serbian 6-3, 6-4 win in an hour and 43 minutes at the O2 Arena in London. Suddenly, the Briton, who was synonymous with being fourth in the world, was the undisputed number one.
The reddish brown-haired jovial guy had come out of his ‘fourth’ shell. “Fourth place in the world is still great but it isn’t No 1,” he said after beating Djokovic in London.
Then immediately, unwilling to bask in the new-found glory of being numero uno, Murray was already looking forward.
“The last few months I have had that goal there and have been trying to get there. Now, I want to stay there. I don’t feel too high just now, I feel good — and I feel motivated to keep going. I have enjoyed the last five, six months the most I have in all of my career. That is probably because I have won a lot, so I want to keep going.”
That simple quote tells you so much about that man’s character. He’s not here by accident. He may not have the class of Roger Federer, the muscles of Rafael Nadal or the pace of Djokovic, but he’s a consistent hard worker, and that clearly shows.