The last decade of men's tennis has been dominated by three names: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic. Together, they've won 29 of the last 30 Grand Slam titles with ruthless supremacy. But now, a new challenger is knocking on greatness' door: Britain's Andy Murray. The nice guy who rarely manages to finish first has been trounced by the Big Three so regularly that he's become a master of the concession speech, delivering amusing, tear-filled, and self-deprecatory remarks that cause the audience to both wince and root for him at the same time. And now, after Murray beat both Djokovic and Federer on the way to a shocking Olympic gold this summer, and with Nadal sidelined by injuries, commentators say the U.S. Open, which kicked off Monday, may be Murray's best chance to nab his first Grand Slam yet. Time to prepare a victory speech?
Murray might just win: Murray is the "newest great hope for British tennis," says David Levin at Bleacher Report. And though Murray may already be "the greatest British tennis player of all time," he still needs a Grand Slam victory to truly solidify his place in tennis history. The hard courts of New York are well-suited for Murray's versatile game, and he boasts "good karma" after winning gold in London. With a little luck, he might just win this thing.
"Andy Murray: Why his Olympic gold medal will lead to a U.S. Open win"
But the odds will be stacked against him: A win certainly "won't be as easy as 1, 2, 3," says Jim Chairusmi at The Wall Street Journal, and to triumph, Murray might have to beat the world's top two players (Federer and Djokovic) in back-to-back matches. That would be really, really hard. Murray is a lousy 0-5 against these two rivals at past major events, and not even Federer, great as he is, has beaten Djokovic and Nadal at the same event. Don't hold your breath.
"For Murray, Slam win won't be easy as 1, 2, 3"
The key is Murray's mental toughness: Murray just thrashed Federer in London, Nadal is hurt, and Djokovic has gone from "virtually unbeatable in 2011 to more vulnerable," says Harvey Araton at The New York Times. Clearly, Murray has the on-the-court skills, "21st-century athleticism," and "powerful baseline arsenal" to make the Elite Three an Elite Four. But he lacks the "mastery of competitive psychology that has separated Federer, Nadal, and most recently Djokovic" from their contemporaries. To win, Murray must "think and feel like a champion." And other than his incredible performance in London, that's something he's rarely demonstrated.
"Crashing the party"