World number one Andy Murray believes his spell at the summit of men's tennis is coming to an end after a poor start to the 2017. The Briton suffered fourth round and semi-final exits respectively at the Australian Open and the French Open and heads into the third grand slam of the year at Wimbledon with a distinct possibility of being replaced at the top.
The 30-year-old is the defending champion at SW19 but is coming under pressure from Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, who have each rolled back the years to scoop the first two major titles of the season. The 35-year-old Federer won his 18th grand slam at the Australian Open before Spaniard Nadal claimed his 10th title at Roland Garros last week.
Nadal's dominance of the clay court season during which he won four titles has seen him go within touching distance of Murray heading into Wimbledon which starts of 3 July. While the left-hander has no points to protect having missed the event last year, Murray is the holder and therefore cannot improve on his tally. Should his struggles during this term continue then he is destined to be usurped barely eight months into his tenure.
"It's most likely that I'll lose the number one spot," he said, according to The Daily Mail. "If you want to stay at number one you can't have periods of three months of the year where you're not winning matches, not performing well in the big events, which was the case for me until the French Open. So more than likely that will happen and that's fine.
"I'm not trying to win Wimbledon for the ranking points — I want to win Wimbledon, that's my goal. I'm still quite a long way from where I want to be in terms of my game so that's why I was back on the practice court quite soon after Paris."
Murray currently leads Nadal by 2,605 points but must defend his titles at Queens and Wimbledon to hold off the 15-time major winner's recent charge. Failure to do so would allow Nadal to further close the gap yet the Majorcan must win his first major on grass since 2010.
Federer is lurking further down the standings as world number five having missed the whole clay court season but is second in pursuit of qualification for the ATP World Tour Finals in London. The Swiss reached the semi-finals at last year's Wimbledon, but did not play again all year but can make up ground on those players above him including Murray and Novak Djokovic having committed to playing for the rest of the season.