Andy Murray and Ivan Lendl contemplate the challenges in 2013
2012 in men's tennis really has been the year of Andy Murray.
His place at the top table of the game alongside the likes of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal was confirmed by his winning an Olympic Gold and finally securing his first Grand Slam title.
Despite stating that he would now be content with his career if he retired without winning any more big titles, there is still much, much more that he is capable of achieving—and his continued success in the major tournaments is still a huge possibility.
Gazing at the crystal ball for 2013, there are three main targets that should be well within his reach if he continues the remarkable progress he has made in the second half of 2012.
1. Win the Australian Open
The first target has to be securing his first Australian Open title.
He has come agonisingly close over the previous three years, losing in two finals and one semifinal. The Australian Open has consistently been his best Grand Slam during his career so far, and this owes much to the hard work he puts in in the Miami heat throughout the Christmas and New Year period.
With his newfound confidence and better attacking game thanks to the stewardship of Ivan Lendl—as well as playing on his favourite hard court surface—he should be feeling confident that he can reach another final and can add to his Grand Slam collection.
2. Prove his Ability to Win on Other Courts
Murray generally struggles throughout the clay-court period of the season, and though I can see him improving on this next year, his sights will firmly be set on ending the long wait for a Wimbledon champion.
He came close last year—eventually succumbing in four sets to the brilliance of Roger Federer—but the way he came back to thrash the same opponent on the same court four weeks later showed to everybody that he has the ability to win the biggest grass court tournament in the world.
3. Secure a Top Ranking
The final target—and it is one that Murray has touched on in recent weeks—is to finally secure his place at the top of the rankings.
He reached a high of No. 2 in August of 2009, but has bobbed around in third or fourth place ever since. The one thing that Murray has lacked throughout his career is the consistency that the other top players around him show.
He is capable of beating the best, but he has also lost to players far below him in the rankings, and we have seen some early exits from tournaments where he was expected to collect big ranking points.
Murray knows that to get the top spot, you have to play well all year round and not just at the big tournaments. Now that he has lifted the Grand Slam monkey from his back, this should allow him to focus on other tournaments as well, which I think will see him claim the top spot in late August next year.
If 2012 was his breakthrough year, 2013 should be the year when he becomes the dominant force in the sport.