With a withdrawal from Milos Raonic, Andy Murray secured the coveted world number 1 ranking. On Monday, Murray will become the 26th man, (since the rankings were established) to claim the top spot. In an era which has featured the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, this accomplishment is all the more remarkable.

It seems that Murray has had to play fourth fiddle to other members of the Big 4 for since the beginning. When the idea of the Big 4 first came up in conversations, many Tennis pundits would scoff when Murray was mentioned in the same breath as the holy trinity. Murray was always the outsider, the hardworking, blue collar man who pushed ahead, looking for any kind of opening.

Each season, Murray aimed to improve a certain aspect of his game. And through those small improvements, major results began to happen.

A shift in the tennis hierarchy

As Federer became older and Nadal's body began to fail him, Djokovic became the only obstacle for the Scot. Djokovic was so dominant that in June of this year, he led Murray by more than 8,000 ranking points. Djokovic was winning everything in sight and finally claimed the one missing crown from his trophy case; the French Open title. However, that very win seems to have shifted the very fabric of the tennis landscape. Djokovic would later admit that his French Open victory left him searching for motivation.

As the tennis season transitioned to grass, Murray no longer felt the pressure of a nation to win the Wimbledon title.

He finally broke Fred Perry's 77 year curse when he won the title in 2013. From that moment on, every other Wimbledon visit would never be as pressure-filled. After Djokovic's loss to Sam Querrey in the third round, Murray became the instant favorite. He did not let the pressure get to him and went on to win the title.

His only major scare came during his five set quarterfinal match against the streaky Frenchman, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Murray's year became one to remember when he successfully defended his Olympic Gold medal, becoming the first tennis player to ever accomplish that feat in singles competition. The US Open was Murray's only blip, as an uninspired performance saw him crash out of the tournament in the quarterfinal.

While several players view the US Open as the unofficial end of the tennis season, with the world number 1 ranking very much at play, Murray went into overdrive. He won tournaments in Beijing, Shanghai and Vienna before entering Paris.

Murray's ascendance to the top

Coming into the final masters 1000 event of the season, the world number 1 scenario was simple; if Djokovic lost before the final and Murray won the tournament, the Scot would become the number 1 player. With so much on the line, many people expected the Djokovic of old to make an appearance. However, that never happened. For the first time in his career, the Serbian star lost to Marin Cilic and with that loss, left the door open for Murray to pounce.

Murray took his opportunity and went on to win the event. In the final, against American John Isner, Murray lost his only set of the tournament. As the final set began, Murray refocused and as he has done so many times before, played the crucial points extremely well. One break in the final set was all Murray needed to seal a fourth successive title. With the ATP World Tour Finals yet to be played, the world number 1 ranking is still very much in play. However, if Murray can sustain his current level of play, there will be no stopping him any time soon.

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