Great Britain is guaranteed a world number one tennis player at the end of 2016 after Jamie Murray and partner Bruno Soares were confirmed to finish the season at the top of the ATP doubles rankings. A third round robin defeat for French pair Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut at the ATP World Tour Finals in London secured the Australian Open and US Open champions the year-end number one spot in their first season together without having to hit a ball.
Herbert and Mahut lost to Henri Kontinen and John Peers – 30-year-old Murray's former partner – 6-7 6-4 10-4 to end their five-month spell at the top of the doubles standings. Murray and Soares reached the semi-finals of the season-ending tour finals after winning all three of their group matches, but have surged to the top of the rankings before resuming their campaign.
Brazilian Soares could yet finish the year as the world number one doubles player if he and Murray win the title at The O2 Arena this week. The pair will face the winner of Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram against all-Spanish pair Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez in the first semi-final on Saturday [19 November].
"It's very exciting," Murray told BBC Two. "A strange way to do it in the end. We've had a great year, we didn't win loads of tournament but we won the right ones. we had a great start in the event here winning our three group matches and we're really excited about playing tomorrow."
Speaking prior to being confirmed as world number one, he added: "It's not something I really thought about, to be honest. I mean, look, I entered the year with a new partner. Of course was hoping it was going to go well. I really thought that it would.
"I mean, we got off to a great start. We were just focusing [on] on our games, our tournaments. I mean, to be honest, it was probably harder for Andy than us 'cause Djokovic is, like, winning everything. To get past him was going to take a monumental effort to do that.
"Doubles was a lot more open, I felt. A lot of the teams very close in level. I guess the French guys kind of dominated for a while, especially the first half of the season. But, you know, we won the right tournaments that kept us in the hunt for it. Yeah, we got a chance this week. We'll be doing our best over the weekend to make that happen."
If Andy Murray can finish the year as the world number one single player, the siblings will be the first brothers to top the individual and doubles rankings at the end of a season in the history of the sport. The Wimbledon and Olympic champion must outperform Novak Djokovic at the ATP Finals to ensure he remains atop of the rankings.