Andy Murray warmed up for the U.S. Open with a victory in the Cincinnati Masters tournament. The British No. 1 beat the current world No. 1, Novak Djorkovic. However, Murray would have preferred his to come under differing circumstances. The Serb had to retire in the second set with Murray leading 6-4, 3-0. But as they say, a win is a win, and Murray has picked up some much needed form going into the final grand slam of the year.
The obvious question that will now be asked is, can Andy Murray win the U.S. Open this year? Well, Andy Murray has said on record before that the hard court is his preferred surface, and it was on the hard stuff where he reached his first grand slam final in 2008. Certainly, Andy Murray is a far better player than in 2008. The problem is his rivals have also improved.
Injury or not, Novak Djokovic showed the sort of vulnerability that we haven't seen from him this year as the Serb has won 57 times in 2011. A shoulder injury so close to the start of the U.S. Open suggests that he will not be at his best. Still, of course, a hugely talented athlete, but Murray has proved he can cause him problems, particularly if he's not moving as well as he would like.
Andy Murray will know, though, that there are other challenges. Roger Federer has had a difficult 2011 in some ways, but he is still a fantastic player. However, he is at least vulnerable to the younger legs of the likes of Murray, Nadal and Djokovic.
Rafa Nadal is another man that Murray would have to find a way past. The Spaniard has had the better of Murray in recent Grand Slam meetings. The two players met at Wimbledon in the Semifinals. Nadal again won the match, but for Murray there was a clear seed of change. For the first time, Murray had the belief that he could win the match. Furthermore, he realised that in order to beat Nadal, he must be aggressive, and he probably will need to be again if he is to win the first set.
Andy Murray did both of those things, but the problem is Rafa Nadal is relentless and keeping up this level can be very difficult. However, media pundits the world over will now feel that the penny has dropped with Murray.
It is no doubt a very tough task, but Murray should realise that certain things are going in his favour and he must believe he can win U.S. Open. Also, the media expectation on the British No. 1 should be reduced from Wimbledon, and Murray can focus on playing his best tennis. Murray will have plenty of support as thousands of British fans flock to America in the hope that their favourite can finally break his Grand Slam slump and end 2011 on a high.