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Race hots up for Masters Cup berths


 

Originally published on: 26/02/10 14:56

Sure, he’s bound to be smarting after the US Open final, but the consolation prizes keep rolling in for Andy Murray.

Not only has he been installed as the world No.4 (equalling the highest world ranking for a Brit), pocketed a cheque for a cool $1 million for his troubles stateside, and received a shiny new dinner-tray to take back to Dunblane.

He’s also secured a spot at the year-ending Masters Cup in Shanghai for the first time.

Attention now switches firmly to the ATP Race – and qualifying for the Masters Cup

I am having my best season ever and qualifying for Shanghai is a great reward,” said the Scot. “It was one of my goals at the beginning of 2008, and I look forward to competing there for the first time.

With the Slams now done and dusted for another year, attention now switches firmly to the ATP Race – and qualifying for the trip to China.

The Masters Cup is the round-robin format season finale, contested exclusively among the season’s top eight players with the proviso that any Grand Slam winner inside the top 20 qualifies automatically.

After that, its down to points accumulated at the four Slams and nine Masters Series events, plus each player’s best five ATP tournament performances.

Nadal, Federer and Djokovic had all qualified before Murray joined them after his run to the US Open final guaranteed a top-eight finish to the year – but it’s all to play for with four spots remaining.

As it stands, top-ten stalwarts Nikolay Davydenko, David Ferrer and Andy Roddick occupy the next three spots, but behind eighth-ranked James Blake, just 100 points separate ten players still very much in the hunt.

“Qualifying for Shanghai was one of my goals for 2008” – Andy Murray

Among the contenders are Juan Martin del Potro, whose four titles and run to the quarter-finals in New York have seen him rise to No.10 in the standings; Fernando Gonzalez, currently No.11, who stunned Federer in the round-robin stages last year with a 3-6 7-6 7-5 victory; and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – a long shot from No.18 after a year blighted by injuries, but who might challenge if he can replicate the early-season form that took him to the Australian Open final.

There are a maximum of seven tournament opportunities remaining for players to add to their points tallies, including Masters Series events in Madrid and Paris – both mandatory tournaments on the ATP Race.

And while the $4.45 million in prize money on offer in Shanghai should help, making the grade carries with it the prestige of having produced a top-eight performance for 2008.

As well, of course, as having your head made out of clay.

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