Andy Murray enjoyed the best season of his career in 2016. The Scot earned nine title victories on his way to securing the world number one ranking for the first time in his career.
Murray ended his 2016 season with an outstanding 82-10 win-loss ratio. The Scot improved upon his career best from last year and won more matches than any other player on the ATP World Tour. Murray went unbeaten from the grass season into the Cincinnati Masters, earning a career-best 22 match win streak. He then went on to best his new record, ending the year with 26 straight wins and five titles.
The Scot started the season strong at the Australian Open where he reached the final for the fifth time where he lost out to defending champion Novak Djokovic. Although starting out the season with a Grand Slam final is impressive, it is massively overshadowed by the achievements that followed in Murray's season. The Scot's season picked up again during the clay swing, where he started off by making the semifinals in his opening clay tournament in Monte-Carlo and then went on to make three straight finals on the dirt which included his first title of the year in Rome where he claimed the title without dropping a set and delivered a beatdown on Novak Djokovic in the final. A couple of scrappy opening round wins in Roland Garros proved crucial as he battled his way into the final in Paris for the first time in his career, taking out defending champion Stan Wawrinka in the semifinals to become the tenth man in the open era to reach the final at all four grand slams.
Murray bounced back from the tough loss in Paris to go unbeaten on the grass, pulling off a great comeback in the final at Queens Club to claim a record fifth title at the historic venue before demolishing the opposition at Wimbledon, where he claimed his third grand slam crown and his first since his historic win on the same court three years previously. The next tournament for the Scot was the Olympics, where in an emotional final, he achieved another record by becoming the first man to defend his gold medal and win two golds in singles.
The Asian swing saw Murray's sky high confidence return and he dominated the rest of the field, claiming titles in Beijing and Shanghai without dropping a set. The win streak continued into Vienna where the Scot stayed unbeaten in the Austrian capital and took his third straight title. The penultimate tournament of the year seen Murray take his place at the top of the rankings for the first time in his career with a first title in the French capital giving the Scot a slim lead over Novak Djokovic heading into the ATP World Tour Finals. The new number one came out on top of a nightmare group at the Tour Finals before surviving an extremely close semifinal encounter with Milos Raonic to set up a battle for the number one spot in the final. It was the first time in ATP World Tour history that the final match of the year decided the year end number one, and Murray confirmed himself as the best player in the world by defeating Djokovic in straight sets.
In the opening Masters tournaments of the year, Murray suffered two consecutive three-set losses. Murray made the semifinal and final of Indian Wells and Miami respectively in 2015 and the losses came as a shock after Murray's great performances in both the Australian Open and the Davis Cup.
During his US Open quarterfinal match against Kei Nishikori, Murray was two sets to one up but eventually fell in five sets. Reaching grand slam quarterfinals and losing a tough five setter wouldn't usually be considered a low point, but it was the manner in which he lost the match that was most surprising. The Scot completely lost focus after the roof closed and a malfunction in the court sound system threw him off.
Murray faced off against Djokovic on the clay in the final of the Internazionale BNL d'Italia in Rome after losing out to him the previous week in the Madrid final. The Scot dominated the Djokovic from the outset and didn't give the Serb any look in at the match as he closed out a 6-3, 6-3 win with a memorable winner from right in front of the stands. Another of Murray's best wins of the season came on clay when he defeated Stan Wawrinka in the semifinals of Roland Garros. Murray's newfound confidence on the clay was clear as he took out the defending champion 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, to reach the final of the French Open for the first time.
The grass court swing seen another two of Murray's best wins, both against Milos Raonic and both in finals. The first came at the Aegon Championships where after being a set and a break down to the big-serving Canadian, Murray stormed back to seal a well fought 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3 win and a historic victory at Queens Club. The second came at Wimbledon where the Scot took his third grand slam crown with a dominant performance and two excellent tiebreaks, 6-4, 7-6(3), 7-6(2).
The gold medal match at the Olympics in Rio seen an emotional encounter between Murray and the resurgent Juan Martin del Potro, who blew apart the draw as he hit his peak after returning from injury. Murray eventually overcame the Argentine in four hard fought sets, 7-5, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5, to defend his Olympic title.
Murray's 2016 rivalry with Raonic ended in the semifinals of the ATP World Tour Finals, The Scot had already broken the record for the longest match in ATP World Tour Finals history earlier in the week but shattered it again in another intense matchup with the Canadian. Murray eventually prevailed 5-7, 7-6(5), 7-6(9) in 3 hours and 38 minutes and saving a match point.
In the first masters event of the year, the BNP Paribas Open, Murray lost out to world number 53 Federico Delbonis in the third round, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(3). Murray's record at the event isn't great but after reaching the semifinals in 2015 and having a good start to the year the result came as a surprise. Even more surprising was another third round loss at the next event, the Miami Open, where Grigor Dimitrov upset Murray from a set down. The Scot was a break up in the deciding set but still lost out the then 28th ranked Bulgarian.
At the beginning of the year, the chances of anyone overtaking Djokovic in the rankings looked slim to none but Murray defied the odds. An outstanding effort saw a third grand slam crown, a second Olympic gold medal, and a year-end number one ranking top off an incredible list of achievements from Murray's 2016 season.
With the Australian Open looming, Murray will be looking to start next season where he left off in 2016 by changing his fortunes at the first Grand Slam of the year and claiming the title after being runner-up on five occasions. It will be interesting to see how Murray can build on his incredible career best year with his confidence sky high and the proven duo of Ivan Lendl and Jamie Delgado at his side.