Andy Murray claimed the title at the China Open on Sunday, taking a step towards unseating world number one Novak Djokovic by romping to a straight sets victory over Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov in the final in Beijing.
Top seed Murray never dropped set in the tournament as he beat unseeded Dimitrov 6-4, 7-6 (7-2) for his fifth title of the year and 40th of his career.
The Scot’s victory moves him 1,000 points closer to long-reigning world number one Djokovic, with the chance of taking the top spot by year-end and capping off a career-best season.
“It’s been the most consistent year of my career, getting to the latter stages of most of the events I have played,” Murray said.
“It’s been an excellent week and I’m very happy with the way that I have played the last couple of matches. I will look forward to Shanghai now.”
Murray broke Dimitrov’s serve in the opening game of the match, putting the 15th-ranked Bulgarian on the defensive as he made 21 unforced errors in the opening set.
In the second, both held their serve through the first four games until Murray broke Dimitrov at 3-2.
It looked like the Scot would serve for the championship but Dimitrov – who beat Rafael Nadal en route to the final – won the next 11 points, breaking Murray to love.
Pushed to a tiebreak, three-time grand slam champion Murray immediately seized back control, storming through the decider to claim his first title in the Chinese capital.
Dimitrov had received a free pass through the semi-finals after Canadian Milos Raonic pulled out with an ankle injury, but was left overwhelmed by the Scot.
“I just didn’t feel that I had another gear,” Dimitrov said. “Andy’s fighting pretty much every single point. You know you’re not going to get anything for free.”
With his 40th win, Murray is the 16th player in the open era to win at least 40 titles and the fourth active player to accomplish the feat, joining Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer.
When the new leaderboards are released on Monday it will be the first time since computerised rankings were introduced that a British man (Murray) and a woman (Johanna Konta who reached the Beijing women’s final) are ranked in the top 10 at the same time.