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Six-time China Open winner Djokovic is not in the Chinese capital to defend his almost flawless tournament record, after an elbow injury picked up earlier in the season forced him to withdraw.
But there are plenty of late-season points on the table – all of which the Serbian is defending after a stellar 2015 – opening the door for the Scot to summit the rankings by the year end.
If Murray – who skipped Beijing last year – can scoop his fifth title of the season at the China Open, he would close the 4,695 point gap between him and the number one by 1,000 points.
“I think obviously trying to reach number one is a goal,’’ Murray told reporters in Beijing.
“It’s something I would like to do for the first time, which is maybe more of a motivation for me than some of the guys that have been there before.’’
Murray bagged his second Wimbledon crown and Olympic gold medal this season.
He also reached the final of the Australian and French Opens, but missed out on a second consecutive Davis Cup win, losing to Argentina.
“It’s been my best season to date, and I want to try to finish it as best as I can,’’ Murray said in Beijing.
The Serbian has maintained an iron-fisted grip on the world number one since July 2014 but made surprise early exits at Wimbledon and the Olympics, withdrawing with injury from the Cincinnati Open in August.
There were concerns that injury could cloud his US Open campaign, but the 12-time Grand Slam champion made his seventh final at Flushing Meadows where he lost to Stan Wawrinka.