Murray to lose Grand Slam virginity?

A few months ago tennis ace Andy Murray dropped jaws around the tennis world when he suggested that some of the top players were seriously considering striking as a form of protest against the lengthy ATP schedule. How strange then that his recent run of form has come at a time when the season is considered all but finished for the elite players. Although the Barclays ATP World Tour finals are approaching, the four grand slams have passed, and the majority of the 1000 masters series events are completed. Many of the top players are already looking to January for the next grand slam event in Melbourne. However, given his current run of form, Andy will not want the season to end.

Since the end of the US Open the British number 1 has become a man possessed;

embarking upon a 14 match winning streak which has seen him complete a hat-trick of tournament wins in Asia. He first lifted the Thailand open title with relative ease. The following Sunday he defeated Nadal, crushing him 6-0 in the deciding set, to clinch the Japan Open. On the third Sunday he defeated David Ferrer in straight sets to defend his Shanghai Masters crown and with it replaced Roger Federer as the 3rd ranked player in the world. Murray now sits behind only 10 time grand slam champion Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic; the player who has won 3 of the 4 grand slams this year.

What is behind this run of form? In short; not a lot, he hasn’t done a great deal differently with his game but he has shown greater authority on the court and now genuinely looks like a contender to clinch a maiden grand slam title. Crucially he looks full of confidence and belief, two things that have been missing from the Scot’s game for a large part of the season. Murray himself has stated that he had been inspired by close friend and rival Novak Djokovic’s exploits this season. The world number one has been in explosive form; winning 64 of 67 matches this year. A year and a half ago no one would have predicted that the Serb would dominate the way he has and that he would dispatch the likes of Nadal and Federer with such ease; Murray has taken heart from this and stepped up his game.

It can only be seen as another positive for British tennis following 18 year old Oliver Golding, the number 2 ranked junior in the world, becoming the boys singles champion at the US Open. Additionally, on the ladies side, teenagers Laura Robson and Heather Watson have both shown great promise on the tour. British tennis has almost never had such an abundance of talent, and with Murray still chasing that elusive grand slam win, the emergence of such young players can only serve to relieve the already burgeoning pressure on him.

2012 promises to be a fantastic year for British tennis; while Andy Murray continues his quest to capture a first grand slam title, Oliver Golding makes the step up to the men’s tour for the first time. His talent suggests he can forge a career similar to his 24 year old counterpart; however a great deal of the game is between the ears and whether he can handle the pressure or not will be crucial to his chances of success. Whatever the arguments may be and whatever questions may be posed, one thing is for certain; British tennis has almost never looked this healthy, and while it may be impossible to emulate the success of Djokovic this year, Andy Murray can use his performances in Asia as a platform from which to build on for next year’s four grand slam events.

Written by: Adnan Khurshid

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