For the fifth time in his career and the second time in as many major tournaments, Andy Murray finds himself in a Grand Slam final.
But unlike in past championship matches, it's now or never for the 25-year-old from Scotland.
In order to break through on Monday, he's got to play with an unmatched sense of urgency.
Despite boasting an impressive 99-27 Grand Slam singles record, Murray has never finished the job.
He first experienced the heartbreak at the 2008 U.S. Open, losing to Roger Federer in the final. Then came the Australian Open in 2010 and 2011. He would lose both finals to Federer and Novak Djokovic, respectively.
Most recently, it was last July at Wimbledon, when Murray fell to Federer for the third time in a Grand Slam final, losing in front of thousands of supporters at the All England Club.
On Monday at the 2012 U.S. Open, Murray will have another shot at Djokovic in a Grand Slam final after losing to the Serbian in straight sets in the Aussie final 20 months ago.
Murray has only won one set in four Grand Slam finals, though, so the odds are clearly against him as he goes up against a five-time major winner in Djokovic.
That is why it is now or never for Murray. If he doesn't cash in on his golden opportunity on Monday in Flushing Meadows, he will never be able to escape the shadow cast over him by Federer, Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
Djokovic is only 25, the same age as Murray, and Nadal is only 26. As long as Murray is playing his best tennis, so will his rivals.
There doesn't look to be a single moment in the future when Murray will be alone as the top dog in men's tennis. He will constantly be taking on the likes of Djokovic and Nadal year after year in Grand Slam tournaments.
His confidence will only decrease with every missed opportunity. If Murray falls on Monday, he will have squandered five in the last four years.
If he can't win once in five tries, just 20 percent of the time, then what reason does anyone have to believe he ever will?
Although it sounds brutal, it's now or never for Andy Murray.
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