Andy Murray took another step towards becoming the first Briton to top the ATP rankings after winning the China Open in convincing fashion by defeating Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets in Beijing. The Scot took the opening set with ease before prevailing in the second set tie-break to claim his fifth title of the year.
The British number one blew away Dimitrov at the US Open earlier in the year and a similar result looked on the cards after Murray took the opening set with a break in the first game. The second set looked to be going a similar way after the Wimbledon and Olympic champion broke Dimitrov for a second time in the fifth game.
Dimitrov, 25, was forced to serve to stay in the match and badly in need to some inspiration produced a fine tweener winner on the run to keep his hopes alive. The shot sparked a run of 11 points in a row which forced Murray to serve to stay in the second set.
Murray had not dropped a set in the tournament and kept that run going as he forced a tie-break. But Dimitrov was denied his first title of the year as Murray reproduced his very best tennis to win 6-4 7-6.
Victory sees Murray close the points gap to Djokovic to 3695, and with the Serbian - who missed the event in the Chinese capital - defending victories in the final two Masters 1000 events in Shanghai and Paris the Brit could make up ground in the coming weeks. Djokovic will return for the event in Shanghai next week however as he looks to end the year as world number one for a fifth time.
"It was a great week for me," said Murray. "Today's match was very high level, Grigor fought right to the end and made it extremely tough to finish it in two sets. It has been an excellent week and I look forward to Shanghai, but it's been really good. I've lost quite a few matches this year, but sure it has been the most consistent of my career. I've managed to get into the latter stages of most of the events that I've played."
Dimitrov added: "I fought so hard in this tournament, it meant a lot to me. Obviously Andy is one of the test competitors out there, no doubt. Credit to him today."