It’s hard out there for Andy Murray. He may be a bonafide tennis icon – he was recently immortalized in a Mario Testino photo spread for Vogue – but every tournament he’s hounded with the UK’s hopes to finally win a Grand Slam tennis championship. (It’s been 74 years!) And Murray is such a strong and versatile player that he almost always comes tantalizingly close to making those hopes a reality. Close, yes, but a champion, not yet.
However, the Scotsman may have his best chance ever to hoist a winner’s trophy at this year’s U.S. Open, which begins Monday here in New York. Here’s a few reasons:
1. In Murray’s two Grand Slam final appearances – this year’s Aussie Open and 2008′s U.S. Open – the victor was Roger Federer. But now the once-invincible Federer is clearly having a rough patch in his stellar career, with early and unexpected exits in both the French Open and Wimbledon this year.
2. Rafael Nadal is a great player, and he’s won back-to-back Slams with this year’s French and Wimbledon. But his game is not well-suited to fast-playing hard courts.
3. Murray beat both Nadal and Federer to win this year’s Toronto Masters tournament a.k.a. the Rogers Cup.
4. Last year’s U.S. Open winner, Juan Martin del Potro, has withdrawn from this year’s tournament after having wrist surgery.
5. There’s, of course, the American Andy, Andy Roddick. A winner at Flushing Meadows seven years ago, Roddick is always hungry to reclaim his title. But he hasn’t played well this year, and Murray comes into the U.S. Open with tons of momentum.
So folks: how far can Andy get in this year’s tournament – and does he have what it takes to win it all this year?