Sunday hat-trick for Murray
Andy Murray made it another Sunday to savour as he successfully retained his Shanghai Masters title by beating David Ferrer in straight sets.
The Scot beat Rafael Nadal seven days ago to take the Japan Open title, and a week before that he thrashed Donald Young to triumph in Bangkok, and Ferrer could not prevent him completing a hat-trick of tournament victories in Asia.
Murray won 7-5 6-4 and will rise to number three in the new world rankings, going ahead of Roger Federer for the first time in his career.
Murray overcame Federer in the final 12 months ago in Shanghai, and has leapfrogged the 16-time grand slam champion to become the main threat to Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal at the top of the men's game.
Sunday's title was Murray's fifth in 2011, while Federer has just one by his name. The 30-year-old Swiss is far from finished, but Murray is unmistakably a man moving in the right direction while Federer is out of the top three for the first time since June 2003.
The 24-year-old Scot would love to finish the year by triumphing in London at the end-of-term ATP World Tour Finals, before making a fresh push for grand slam success in 2012.
"The goal is to play well at the O2 and try to go further than I have before," Murray said. "I'll do everything I can to get ready for that."
For now Murray needs a break, and he plans to use the week ahead to rest and recharge, having been left exhausted by not only a hectic schedule of matches in the past three weeks, but inevitably also the travelling involved.
"It's been one of the best runs of my life," Murray said at the trophy presentation ceremony.
"I've played very, very well in the last few weeks. I was very nervous today because I wanted to win and defend my title but I'm very happy I came through."
The two sets on Sunday followed a similar pattern, with the pair trading immediate breaks of serve before Murray struck decisively.
In the first set, Ferrer faltered at 5-5, throwing in a double fault when serving at 40-30 behind, and Murray closed out the set efficiently.
Murray broke right at the start of the second set, but again he was broken back, sending a crosscourt forehand out via a heavy bump from the top of the net.
Ferrer needed to stay with him and build some pressure against Murray's serve, but again it was the Spaniard who was the most vulnerable.
The man ranked fifth in the world - and there is a huge chasm between fourth and fifth - dropped serve again in the third game.
Ferrer was 30-15 down on serve when Murray sent up a high lob. The smash should have been routine but Ferrer dumped it into the net, giving away break point.
A perfect lob, with Ferrer stranded at the net, gave Murray the game and reasserted his authority.
Ferrer was clinging on to hope that Murray would falter, and only when he served for the match was there the slightest hint of an opening.
Murray fell 30-15 behind on his serve after a pair of backhand errors, but the danger was quickly snuffed out.
When Murray climbed to number two in the world in August 2009, Federer was the man at number one.
To overtake the most successful player in the history of men's tennis is a proud moment for Murray, but it was not the only goal he set himself for 2011.
Murray told Sky Sports: "It's not something I aimed for at the start of the year.
"You want to try to finish at number one if you can.
"After the US Open, that wasn't possible. I needed to reassess my goals.
"I wanted to finish the year at three if possible. I haven't done that before.
"That still isn't complete. I'm still going to have to win some more matches to do that.
"But the last three weeks have been very good. I've had a good mindset and fought really hard in all the matches.
"Here I got a bit tired but I wanted to keep the run going.
"I'm really happy with the way I'm playing and hope I can keep it up for the rest of the year."
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