SHANGHAI - Andy Murray can build on his breakthrough year by becoming the number one player in the world, top-ranked Swiss rival Roger Federer said on Sunday.
Federer said the Scot, who became Britain's first men's singles Grand Slam champion since the 1930s when he won the US Open last month, had bounced back strongly after losing the Wimbledon final.
"He's saying the right things. He has results that back up his chances to become world number one, maybe even at the end of the year, maybe at the beginning of the next year," said Federer.
"If not then, he's got a shot till next year's Wimbledon almost if he were to win there. His next nine months are going to be extremely interesting to follow."
The Swiss 17-time Grand Slam champion, who was destroyed in the Olympic final by a resurgent Murray, said: "His reaction was amazing right after not winning Wimbledon against me.
"Then coming back and winning the Olympics, still battling it out through Toronto and Cincinnati, then bringing the victory home, his first Grand Slam, at the US Open, (I was) very impressed, great to see."
Murray is currently ranked third in the world behind Federer and Novak Djokovic but it would take an unlikely sequence of results to reach the number one spot this year.
The 25-year-old, who lost in the semi-finals of the Japan Open on Saturday as defending champion, reached a career high of number two in 2009.
There has never been a British world number one under the current ranking system, launched in 1973.
Federer said Murray's recent run of successes would give him a major boost.
"I'm sure it's going to give him confidence for what's to come, then of course it is going to have maybe an impact in the future.
"When is Rafa (Rafael Nadal) going to come back, when, how strong? How well am I going to play? How well is Novak going to play? The rest of the players. That all has a little bit of an impact.
"But overall he has some control over that himself now, and I hope for him he can achieve it eventually."
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