Andy Murray: The Greatest Tennis Player Never to Win a Grand Slam?

Richard Smith@@richonracingContributor IIIFebruary 7, 2012

PARIS - MAY 30:  Andy Murray of Great Britain looks dejected after losing the second set during the men's singles fourth round match between Andy Murray of Great Britain and Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic at the French Open on day eight of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 30, 2010 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

It is almost wrong to suggest that at 24 years old, Andy Murray is already the greatest men's tennis player in the "Open Era" never to have won a Grand Slam event.

As it stands right now, however, this has to be the case. He has reached three Grand Slam finals, but has yet to even win a single set in any of them.

Murray's first finals defeat came at the 2008 US Open, where the Scotsman was trounced by Roger Federer, 6-2, 7-5, 6-2. In fairness to Murray (who was 21 years of age at the time), the tennis world was convinced that he would most definitely have his day in the near future, meaning that the defeat was regarded more as an achievement than as a failure.

In overall terms, Murray had a better year in 2009. He reached the finals of three ATP Masters 1000 events, while winning in Miami and Montreal. Murray also enjoyed wins in Qatar, Rotterdam, Queens and Valencia, but ultimately failed to reach a Grand Slam final. The best he managed was a semi-final at Wimbledon.

Murray's second Grand Slam final came in the 2010 Australian Open where, once again, he went down in straight sets to Roger Federer. This time around, the critics began to suggest that maybe Murray lacked the necessary mindset to get to the very top of the tennis world.

The final of the 2011 Australian Open was also reached by Murray and he went into that match with many suggesting that this was his time to join the elite. However, he came up short against his longtime rival and friend, Novak Djokovic.

Murray still won five titles in 2011, including two Masters 1000s, bringing his career total to 22.

If his career record is to be compared to that of Tim Henman, another player regarded as one of the best to never have won a Grand Slam, then Murray stands head and shoulders above him.

Henman only won eleven career titles and only one at the Masters 1000 level. He never even reached a Grand Slam final, although he did manage to reach the semi-finals at Wimbledon four times and at the French and US Opens one time each.

Similar to the problem Murray has now, contesting for the sport's biggest prizes alongside guys like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, Henman always had the Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi factor working against him.

In my opinion, both Djokovic and Nadal would need to be injured at the same time to give Andy Murray a genuine chance of redressing the inevitable. Until then, he is destined to become the greatest men's tennis player never to win a Grand Slam title.