Having reached his first Wimbledon final and defeated Roger Federer in straight sets to win an Olympic gold medal, we're asking if Andy Murray is now destined for further greatness. How are tennis odds makers looking at his future?
Having reached three Grand Slam final
previous to 2012, and lost them all without having taken a single set, many
assumed that Andy Murray, had reached his peak and it was only a matter of time
before the 'nearly man' of tennis began an inevitable fall down the rankings.
The British No.1 has never been one to turn
down a challenge and when he took on Ivan Lendl at the start of the 2012
season, suddenly it seemed as if Murray
may well have pulled off a masterstroke. Lendl had followed a career path very
similar to that of Murray
and had lost four Grand Slam finals in succession before eventually coming from
two sets down to defeat John McEnroe in the French Open final.
Murray's first Grand Slam final came in the US Open against Roger Federer
in 2008. Then aged just 21, Murray
was brushed aside with ease, but the feeling was that it would not be his last
chance to make the step from runner-up to Grand Slam glory - and it certainly
At the start of 2010, Murray earned himself another opportunity
against Federer, in the final of the Aussie Open, but again he was demolished
by the Swiss, and this time it seemed even more comprehensive. If only Andy
could reach a final and not meet the Swiss maestro...
In January of 2011, Murray again progressed to the final of the
Aussie Open and this time it was the altogether less imposing figure of Novak
Djokovic standing in his way. Yes, Djokovic was the higher ranked man, but he
had only one Slam under his belt and was known for cracking under intense
pressure. Perhaps unfortunately for Murray,
Djokovic was about to embark on one of the most historic tennis seasons in
history and the Serb romped to a straight sets victory.
With Lendl comfortably in place, and Rafael Nadal
out of contention early on, Murray saw another
opportunity of reaching a Grand Slam final at Wimbledon
in June, and he grasped it with both hands.
Of course, when he got there, Roger Federer
was waiting and there were more than a few pundits expecting a similar story to
unfold. Ultimately, it did. But something was different at the Wimbledon 2012
final. Murray came out of the blocks with a belief we'd hadn't seen before and
really rattled Federer in the opening exchanges. He should have won the opening
set but didn't. He should have won the second set and did. In the end Federer
came through in four sets, but you could sense a change in Murray. His reaction to defeat was different.
Yes there were tears, but there was something more positive in the way he
handled defeat and the feeling was that by becoming the first British man to
reach a Wimbledon final in more than 70 years, Murray had found a new level of confidence.
Throughout the Olympic campaign Murray looked like a new
player. There was no question he'd get at least as far as the semi-finals and
there was a suspicion he may be able to do something against Djokovic and
Federer when he met them there.
Nobody ever expected him to defeat both of
them, so comprehensively, without the loss of a set.
So what now for Andy Murray?
He'll probably never come into a Grand Slam
event with more confidence than he does the US Open at the end of this month.
It was fifth time lucky for his coach, Ivan
Lendl, and if Murray
can progress to the final at Flushing Meadow, it'll be his fifth. Is history
about to repeat itself?
The last time Murray played a Grad Slam on hard courts, he
took Djokovic all the way to the end of the fifth set and was desperately
unfortunate to lose out. He has defeated Nadal on the US Open courts and knows
the Spaniard is likely to be far from his best form in this one.
At tennis odds of 7/2 to win the US Open title, Murray is currently
priced ahead of both Federer and Nadal. There's no question that this event
could finally be the one for Murray.
The two events we've seen at Wimbledon this
year have both suggested the emergence of a new Andy Murray. Roger Federer has
done remarkable well to return to the top of the rankings but his time is
running out. Rafa Nadal has got a battle on his hands not to show he still has
the abilities to go all the way away from the red stuff. Novak Djokovic has had
an amazing couple of years, but there has certainly been a slight drop in
standard and the there doesn't seem to be much to choose between Djokovic and
Murray at the moment. In the final reckoning, it could all come down to
If Murray can just clinch his first Slam,
sooner rather than later, we could be seeing the current British No. 1, and
Olympic Champion, standing proudly at the top of the world rankings too.