America, Andy Murray Is Ready For His U.S. Open Close-Up

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America, Andy Murray Is Ready For His U.S. Open Close-Up
(Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Fred Perry)

To find the last British male to have won a grand slam, one is required to trace back as far as 1936 when Fred Perry claimed the Wimbledon title. To find the only ever British winner of the U.S. Open, you have to travel a further three years back, when Perry beat Australia's Jack Crawford in 1933.

The former World No. 1 of five years boasts a glittering record, having won eight slams in the process completing a career grand slam. In light of such achievements, Perry set a precedent in not only world tennis but especially British tennis that has yet to be matched by any other player in over 70 years.

The player, hailing from Stockport, was described by three time grand slam winner Jack Kramer, as the "world’s worst good player"—fast, aggressive, and arrogant. According to the American, Perry's one weakness was his backhand, which opponents learned to exploit.

In stark contrast, Britain's current No. 1 Andy Murray possesses one of the best two-handed backhands in the game today, and is currently preparing to take on tennis elite in the final grand slam of the year at Flushing Meadows next week.

Much has been made of Murray's recent rise to the summit of men's tennis as he was crowned World No. 2 recently. It sparked a fresh wave of "Murray mania" amongst the English media, all eager to predict the end of a long barren spell for men’s tennis in Britain.

The Scottish player has a phenomenal record on the hard courts, but lacks experience when it comes to overcoming that final hurdle to claim his maiden grand slam title. He can match the best on his day, but will he be consistent enough to avoid defeat as he tackles six games in a fortnight?

He has numerous critics. Many laud the fact that Murray hasn't won a slam and until such a time that he does, he shouldn't be ranked World No. 2, or considered a real threat. If the Scot required any additional motivation, surely silencing the doubters will spur him on.

Murray will reflect upon lessons learnt at Flushing Meadows last year. A tired, lethargic Murray endured a torrid display in the final against Federer (losing 6-2, 7-5, 6-2), after using all his energy to sensationally defeat Rafael Nadal in the semi-final.

This year has seen Murray improve his endurance which is exemplified when you glimpse at his fantastic record on hard courts. "Muzza" has featured in every Masters final this year on the hard courts, winning two and losing two.

The player's stamina will be fully tested in New York after the No. 2 seed was handed the hardest draw of the top four seeds, as he looks to claim his first grand slam and mute the mud-slingers.

Ernests Gublis will be Murray's first opponent at Flushing Meadows. The Latvian was tipped as a future World No. 1, but has failed to live up to that billing and now sits at 95 in the World. A potentially difficult match-up, one would expect Murray to sail through.

On his path to a potential final, the British No. 1 may have to face the serving specialist Ivo Karlovic, hard hitting Stanislas Wawrinka—who Murray struggled to overcome at Wimbledon, followed by the in-form Juan Martin Del Potro, with a possible semifinal clash against Rafael Nadal.

Should Murray overcome these difficult obstacles blocking his path to the Arthur Ashe court on Sept. 13, he can reasonably expect to meet Roger Federer in the final.

The real test of Murray's progress in the last twelve months lies in his ability to play consistently throughout the tournament, maintain the energy levels, and ultimately seize the chance to create his own piece of history.

Glasgow may not have a street named "Andy Murray Way" quite yet, but the Scottish sensation is without doubt Britain's greatest talent since the legendary Fred Perry. It's time for Murray to justify his world ranking.

It makes for an interesting two weeks for tennis fans across the globe. Roger Federer will be looking to go one step closer to a winning all four slams consecutively. Nadal will be looking to reclaim his old ranking. Novak Djokovic will be looking to build on the impressive form he showed at the Cincinnati Masters.

This could be Murray's time. Carpe Diem.

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