Andy Murray moved one step closer to becoming world number one by beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3 7-6 (8-6) in the ATP Erste Bank Open in Vienna and gain another 500 points on world No 1 Novak Djokovic
The Scot, 29, asserted his dominance in the first set against Frenchman Tsonga in his 78th singles match of the year.
But he faced a revived Tsonga in the second, needing a tie-break to win it.
The Briton will replace Novak Djokovic as number one by winning next week’s Paris Masters, provided Djokovic does not reach the final.
His Vienna win is his third consecutive title after recent successes in Beijing and Shanghai and he has lost only three times since the French Open in June.
The reigning Wimbledon and Olympic champion won his third title of the autumn and seventh tournament win of the year to move to within just 415 points behind Novak Djokovic.
Murray can top the rankings for the first time in his career as early as November 7 if he wins next week’s Masters event in Paris and Djokovic fails to reach the final.
Murray won the title thanks to his fifth ace on his second match point
The Scot added to the 2014 Vienna title by claiming his 42nd career title and is now on a 15-match winning streak after securing back-to-back titles in Beijing and Shanghai. He has lost just three matches since the French Open in June.
Tsonga, the 2011 champion in Vienna, was looking to overturn a four-match losing streak against Murray, but the Scot was playing immaculate indoor tennis. A single break of serve in the second game was enough for the Briton in the opening set.
Should Andy Murray overhaul Novak Djokovic he would become the oldest first-time world No 1 since John Newcombe scaled the summit aged 30 in 1974.
For the first set and a half it was Murray who controlled the match but Tsonga, who had beaten Murray only twice in their previous 15 meetings, came alive and produced an aggressive display to take the second set to a tie-break.
Tsonga continued to attack at the net but Murray’s fifth ace of the match ensured a career-best seventh title of the season.
He quickly established a lead by breaking in the first game of the second set, but the 31-year-old former Australian Open finalist found some form by winning four on the trot, including a break in the eighth game, to forced a tie-break.
Tsonga said: “Next week he has the chance to be number one, I hope it will be the case, except if I play against him in Paris.”