It is indeed a case of déjà vu for British No. 2 seed Andy Murray, as he has drawn a possible showdown with Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarterfinal, Rafael Nadal in the semi, and a final clash with Roger Federer.
The situation seems all too familiar for Britain’s best bet for a Grand Slam as he prepares to handle one heck of a draw, which is pretty much similar to what he had to deal with 12 months ago at the prestigious Flushing Meadows.
Murray, then an abecedarian on the big stage, had just begun his breakthrough season with his thumping win at Cincinnati Masters and a resounding victory over the then-worn out world No. 1 Nadal en route to his first Grand Slam final.
Twelve months later, he returns to the scene of his biggest Grand Slam achievement, after having become a more accomplished player with a string of triumphs over top players, four Masters titles in his kitty, and a career-high No. 2 ranking to boast of.
But his task remains the same, or has perhaps become even harder.
Drawing a precocious talent like Ernest Gulbis in the first round itself is no easy task, and even though the Scot was able to dispatch him in the second round at Wimbledon with consummate ease, the Latvian remains a potential threat.
A tricky third-round showdown with the 6'10" ace machine Ivo Karlovic looms, and even though Murray’s superb return of serve might sail him through this one, an equally threatening fourth-round danger awaits.
Either the very talented Marin Cilic will be on the opposite side of the net, or it will indeed be another case of déjà vu for the Brit—if he faces Stanislas Wawrinka, who was close to breaking millions of British hearts at the Wimbledon fourth round this year.
But perhaps the encounter that Murray would relish the least is his potential quarterfinal, where the Dunblane native is scheduled to face his biggest danger in the form of Del Potro.
Del Potro, who was quietly shown the door by Murray last year, is now every player’s nightmare.
One of the most fascinating players to watch at the U.S. Open Series this year, the lethal Argentine has defended his title at Washington with a victory over in-form Andy Roddick. An encore of that performance was seen at the Montreal Masters semi, where he ultimately bowed down to the Scot in the final.
Though Murray enjoys a 4-1 head-to-head lead over the Argentine, which includes his latest triumph at Montreal, the Argentine was clearly exhausted from his continuous play, and a break from Cincinnati must have provided him the much-needed rest he needs to blast his guns at the U.S. Open.
And then of course, the Spanish supremo Nadal remains the second seed’s potential semifinal opponent.
Even though the fitness of the world No. 3 remains a big question after his tendinitis recovery, the man can never be counted out. If Nadal manages to reach the semifinal, it would immediately do him a world of good by boosting his confidence.
Murray knows his best bet for a Slam trophy lies at New York, where he is most comfortable. His recent dominance has put him as one of the favourites in the running for the crown, after the Swiss maestro Federer.
If he really wants to prove his worth as a serious contender for a Slam, which experts have already been saying since the beginning of this year, then there is no better way to validate it.
Success does come the hard way after all.
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