Andy Murray moved one step closer to becoming world number one by beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3 7-6 (8-6) in the Erste Bank Open in Vienna.
The Scot, 29, asserted his dominance in the first set against Frenchman Tsonga in his 78th singles match of the year.
But he faced a revived Tsonga in the second, needing a tie-break to win it.
The Briton will replace Novak Djokovic as number one by winning next week’s Paris Masters, provided Djokovic does not reach the final.
Murray will also take top spot if he reaches the Paris final and Djokovic falls before the semi-finals.
Three times a Grand Slam winner and twice Olympic champion, Murray has never been top of the world rankings.
“I get a step closer with every win but it’s still a long way from here,” he said.
“From two to one seems a small jump in a way but it’s the hardest one to make. To go from 100 to 50 is more spots but is a lot easier.”
The win in Vienna win is Murray’s third consecutive title after recent successes in Beijing and Shanghai, and he has lost only three times since the French Open in June.
For the first set and a half it was Murray who controlled the match but Tsonga, who had won only two of their previous 15 meetings, came alive and produced an aggressive display to take the second set to a tie-break.
Tsonga continued to attack at the net but Murray’s fifth ace of the match ensured a career-best seventh title of the season.
“I was thinking more about how you are going to win the match rather than what it would mean if you did win it,” added Murray.
“But obviously it’s nice to win my seventh tournament. A lot of them have come in the last few months.
“After the Australian Open I struggled a little bit for a couple of months but the last few months have been very good.”