Pat Cash has backed Andy Murray to hold on the world number one ranking for than one week, and thinks he can open up an advantage over the rest of the field during the months of February and March next season. The Briton was crowned the top ranked men's singles player at the end of last week after Novak Djokovic lost in the quarter-finals of the Paris Masters, and Murray made the final and went on to win his fourth consecutive ATP title.
The 29-year-old missed a chunk of tournaments in February and March this year owing to the birth of his daughter with partner Kim Sears, and as a result does not have too many points to defend like the rest of the players in the top 10. If he has a good run in the tournaments post the 2017 Australian Open, he could build a healthy points advantage over the rest of the field.
The 1987 Wimbledon winner has also made a bold claim that Murray is an all-round better player in terms of shot-making than 12-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic, who has been at the top of the game since 2011, when he won three majors and attained the number one ranking for the first time in his career. Murray was crowned the top ranked player for the first time in his career and Cash believes he has it in him to retain the crown for many weeks.
The Australian has also backed the two-time Olympic gold medal winner to add to his three Grand Slam titles in the coming years, as he believes that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are unlikely to be at their best after struggling for form and fitness in recent seasons.
"I will stick my neck out here and maintain that Murray is a better all-round shot-maker than Novak Djokovic. They have similar styles in a lot of areas and there is no denying the Serb is one of the most spectacular and naturally gifted athletes ever to play the sport," Cash wrote in his column for The Times.
"But Murray has a far better game at the net, possesses better variety on his backhand, can match it in the speed department, and with his serve being more reliable this year, dare I say, he is mentally more secure.
"I can see Murray holding the world No 1 ranking for many weeks. I don't think he's in the mood to let the momentum that has taken him to four titles in a row slip. In 2017, once the Australian Open is out of the way, he's got a two-month window in February and March when he has hardly any ranking points to defend in big tournaments such as Indian Wells, Miami and even Dubai, where he can lay down the bedrock of a good lead at the top," the 1987 Wimbledon winner explained.
"Last year he didn't play at all in February after the birth of his daughter and he would probably care to forget the two big American tournaments where things were just not right in his camp. Since then he's hardly looked back, with the best clay-court season of his life paving the way for so much success on grass and hard court."