MONTREAL — Britain’s Andy Murray defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France and Juan Martin Del Potro ousted Andy Roddick in the semifinals of the US$3-million Rogers Cup at Uniprix Stadium on Saturday.
With his win, Murray will vault past Spain’s Rafael Nadal into a career-high second in ATP rankings behind No. 1 Roger Federer of Switzerland when the next rankings are released on Monday. Nadal, on the mend from knee trouble, lost in the quarter-finals Friday night.
Murray downed the seventh-seeded Tsonga 6-4, 7-6 (8).
The Argentine Del Potro beat Roddick 4-6, 6-2, 7-5. He also defeated the fifth-seeded American in a third-set tiebreaker in the final of a tournament in Washington only last Sunday.
The results put the two players who were clearly the best performers all week into the final on Sunday.
And Murray got the bonus of becoming the new world No. 2.
“In terms of rankings, that’s the biggest step I’ve taken so far,” said Murray.
“I played consistently well this year and you know, Rafa had an injury, but it was Wimbledon that he missed.
“I also took a big break after Wimbledon, so bar winning a grand slam, I’ve done enough to justify being No. 2. And getting close to one day becoming No. 1 is one of my goals. So it’s great. I’ve put in a lot of hard work to get to this stage.”
The 22-year-old has a chance to become the first British player to win the event formerly known as the Canadian Open. The last Briton to reach the final was Roger Taylor, who lost in 1970 to Australian great Rod Laver.
Murray, already the highest-ranked British player since ATP rankings were introduced in 1973, will be the first player other than Nadal or Federer to hold the No 2 spot since July 18, 2005, when Australian Lleyton Hewitt was second behind Federer. He now has 8,850 points to Nadal’s 8,665.
“Five years it’s been Rafa and Roger as No. 1 and No. 2. Novak (Djokovic) had one or two matches to get to No. 2, so it’s a tough thing to do because Rafa and Roger are maybe the best two of all time,” he said.
“So yeah, it’s pretty special to get in between them.”
Nadal was playing his first tournament since the French Open in May due to tendinitis in both knees and said this week he still has work to do to reach his top level of tennis.
Murray also tied Djokovic for the lead in match wins this year with 49, including tournament wins in Doha, Rotterdam, Miami and the Queen’s Club in England.
Murray broke service and held a 5-2 first set lead when the streaky Tsonga broke back and threatened to tie it before the Dunblane, Scotland native served out the set.
The second set went to a nervy tiebreaker in which Murray fought off two set points and finally won the Frenchman, who had lost two points on failed attempts at drop shots, hit a backhand into the net.
Tsonga was coming off a dramatic three-set victory over Federer in which he trailed 5-1 in the third set only to roar back and win in a tiebreaker.
“It’s always tough against him because he dictates what happens in the match because of the way he plays,” said Murray.
“I just had to stay solid and make enough balls for him to make a few mistakes and I came up with a few big returns.”