Andy Murray has insisted ahead of the Shanghai Masters that qualifying for the ATP World Tour Finals isn't the reason he has taken-on a heavy workload in recent weeks.
The British no.1 embarked on the Asian swing a little earlier than the likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer - all of whom have already qualified for the season-ending tournament.
Following a quarter-final loss at the US Open - by Djokovic - it was clear that Murray faced an uphill battle to qualify in one of the top eight ranking slots after outsiders Kei Nishikori and winner Marin Cilic massively inflated their own positions.
Sure enough the British no.1 dropped out of the world's top 10 after Flushing Meadows' conclusion, for the first time in eight years, and the former world no.3 duly accepted a last-minute wildcard to the Shenzhen Open; a move thought to have been made to get some ranking points together.
The former world no.3 ended up winning his first title in over 15 months - since Wimbledon 2013 - at Shenzhen, whilst also signing up to play in last week's China Open and this week's Shanghai Masters; the latter being a tournament he won twice in consecutively in 2010 and 2011.
However Murray has revealed that the Tour Finals were not the reason for putting himself through the strain of playing three tournaments in as many weeks.
"My schedule was going to be dictated more how I felt and what I wanted from the end of the year rather than just trying to play to get into the Tour Finals, because I don't think that's necessarily the right way to go about it," he said to reporters ahead of the Masters.
"But the reason I came here (to China) was to try to get some momentum, try to win some more matches, get into the latter stages, play against the best players, and get used to playing at that level consistently again between now and the end of the year.
"But if I play well, I'll give myself a chance at getting to the O2. When I step on the court, that really shouldn't be something I'm thinking about."
Murray has indeed boosted his own prospects of getting to the Finals, his Shenzhen title came before a semi-final loss to eventual winner Djokovic in Beijing last week.
The two-time Grand Slam champion jumped from 11th to ninth in the race to reach London with the two results, but he still needs to elevate himself one place higher, as a minimum, to qualify.
There are still some talented players he must surpass as well. Australian Open winner Stanislas Wawrinka and Nishikori look favourites to be the next duo to book their places. If they do so, it only leaves three more spots up for grabs.
Down to the wire
Cilic, Tomas Berdych and Milos Raonic are the men currently on their way, but with 1000 ranking points on offer to the winner in Shanghai, Murray's current deficit of around 200 points could be cut very easily.
So much will depend on results in the last tournament of the Asian swing this week, but also a Masters 1000 trip to Paris later this month as well. Even the likes of David Ferrer and Grigor Dimitrov, 10th and 11th respectively, will feel they are still in with a shout.
Murray will open up his campaign with a first-round match against either Teymuraz Gabashvili or Eduouard Roger-Vasselin.News Now - Sport News