Thursday, 28 October 2010

Can Murray reach the top?

I don't know about you, but the 2010 season seems to be a bit of a disappointment for Andy Murray.

It almost doesn't seem right to use a word like disappointment when you reached a Grand Slam final, have captured a pair of Masters titles, and are currently standing at No. 4 in the world.

But expectations were high, very high, for the 6-foot-3 Scotsman heading into '10. After all, he was the No. 2 player on the planet in August of last year.

AM started off in pretty fine fashion this season, landing in his second career major final, at the Aussie Open. But after many had picked him to win his first career Grand Slam title, the Dunblane native fell to the great Roger Federer in straight sets in Oz.

He would not reach another major final the rest of the year.

Note: When Murray landed in the Aussie Open finale, he became only the second British man to reach at least two Grand Slam finals in 72 years.

Murray, who also lost to the amazing Federer in the 2008 U.S. Open title tilt, was also considered to be a favorite to capture his first Wimbledon title back in July. But current world No. 1 superstar Rafael Nadal prevented that from happening by beating the talented Brit in straight sets in the semis. It marked the second straight year that Murray fell in the round of four at the storied All England Club.

A few weeks before Wimbledon commenced, Murray tapped out earlier than expected at the French Open, falling to eventual Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych in straight sets in the fourth round on the famed red clay at Stade Roland Garros.

But his biggest Grand Slam disappointment probably came in New York, where Murray was toppled by the other Swiss slugger, Stanislas Wawrinka, in four sets in only the third round at the U.S. Open. It marked the second straight year he failed to reach the quarters in the Big Apple after soaring into the final there in '08.

And in his four Grand Slam losses this season, Murray went 1-12 in 13 sets.

Where's the clutch?

If the 23-year-old Murray wants to give Britain its' first male Grand Slam champion since 1936, he's gonna have to find another gear, and, perhaps, some more (hate to say it) heart. He seems to go belly up when all the chips are on the big table.

Did You Know?: Murray attended Dunblane Primary School and was there the day of the "Dunblane Massacre," a multiple murder-suicide that occurred March 13, 1996. Sixteen children and one adult were murdered that day by Thomas Watt Hamilton, who also shot himself dead.

Back to tennis (somehow).

Okay, so Murray is a quality 41-14 this year and has qualified for the season- ending ATP World Tour Finals for a third consecutive year, but he's tallied only two titles (as the No. 4 player in the world) this season. Granted, both titles are of the prestigious variety as Masters ones, but no one remembers who wins Masters titles, do they? They tend to remember only the major the ones...which Murray has yet to manage.

Back in August, Murray became the first player in 15 years to win back-to-back Canadian Masters titles since Andre Agassi turned the trick in 1994-95. And en route to the fancy title in Toronto, AM became only the fifth different player to upend both Nadal and Federer in the same tournament.

How 'bout that.

And Murray spanked Federer 6-3, 6-2 in 85 minutes in the Shanghai Masters finale just two weeks ago, so things are certainly not all bad for the athletic Scot (even though he failed to reach quarterfinals at half of the majors in 2010).

Note: Murray is 8-5 lifetime against Federer, including wins in those Canadian and Shanghai Masters finals this season, but he's only 4-8 all- time versus Nadal and 3-4 lifetime against Novak Djokovic, the only other player currently ranked ahead of him.

In short, Murray is a fine, fine of the best on the globe to be sure. And I believe he has the ability to win a major. But he has to figure out a way to play his best tennis under the brightest lights, and I'm not talkin' about Toronto or Shanghai. I'm talkin' about Melbourne, Paris, London and NYC.

Can he do it?

Courtesy: Miami Herald

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