London, May 12: British tennis star Andy Murray has just become the world No 3, making him the highest ranked Briton ever, and believes that he is finally mastering clay courts.
"I'd be prouder if I was in the middle of them," said Murray when asked how he feel after he climbed to No 3 in the world rankings behind Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
In swapping places with Novak Djokovic in Monday, May 11 updated list, Murray becomes the highest-placed British player since the rankings were launched 36 years ago, beating the best mark achieved by both Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski.
Now Murray has Federer, the world No 2, in his sights. The Swiss, 1,180 points ahead of him in the rankings, has 3,950 points to defend between now and the end of Wimbledon, whereas the Briton has just 800. If Murray has a good run here at this week's Madrid Masters and at the French Open beginning in 12 days' time, he could even overtake Federer by the time he sets foot on the green grass of home at Queen's Club next month.
"I've been on a very good run in the last eight or nine months and I think the ranking obviously reflects that, but to get close to Roger and Rafa, or even to get in between them, is a tough thing to do," Murray said.
"I feel like I can get better on clay, and learn how to play on clay, and try and get into the second week and go deep into the French Open. That's why Rafa is so good. Every weakness that he had when he came on the Tour he's always looked to improve. Even now, when he's No 1 in the world and so far ahead in the rankings, when you see him on the practice court he is always giving 110 per cent. That for me is a motivation: to see someone like that who has been so successful still trying to improve," Murray said.
Murray has always said that winning a Grand Slam tournament is his main goal, his defeat in last year's US Open final having been his best effort to date.
"I know how the rankings stand and I know that I've got a chance of overtaking Roger if I play very well in the next couple of months, but the most important thing is just to concentrate on playing well and not on the ranking. If you're always thinking 'what time's he playing?' and 'what's his draw like?' you're not taking care of yourself - and that's the most important thing," he said.
He added: "This part of the season is tough. With the grass-court season just after the French, I've got three tournaments before Wimbledon. It's not a whole lot. So with the change-over to grass after the French, the time goes pretty quickly. You just need to try and focus as best as possible."