Andy Murray’s wait for a ‘big’ success despite being one of the strongest contenders in the era of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic ended with his demolition of 2012 Wimbledon champion at the London Olympics.
Murray’s triumph at the event had thrown open the upcoming US Open turning it into a title that would have four legitimate suitors rather than the usual troika of a Djoker, a Spanish freak and a Swiss Maestro.
However, as it turned out, Nadal won’t be contesting the final Grand Slam of the year due to fitness concerns making it again a fight among the top three minus the Spaniard.
Out of the four Grand Slam events of the year, three have so far witnessed a different champion.
Nadal’s absence from the fourth has surely come as a dampener.
The top three men have conquered each that includes Novak Djokovic (Australian Open), Rafael Nadal (French Open) and Roger Federer (Wimbledon).
Now, for the romantics, a fairy tale ending that will cap an exciting year for the men’s tennis would be Britain’s eternal hope of a Grand Slam champion being fulfilled.
It is fast becoming a regular sight at the Slams watching Murray wiping his tears while holding the runners-up trophy waving at the crowd as it cheers him up.
Well, the Scot cried again.
And the reason was his 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 win over favourite Federer. The win can become a career-defining moment for the 25-year-old if he manages to land himself among the Grand Slam winners.
And end the prospect of being labelled as an underachiever.
Naturally, the ease with which Murray overcame world no 1 Roger Federer on the hallowed turf of Wimbledon, the Scot is as strong a challenger as the other two.
There is no other candidate as suitable as him to challenge the hegemony of the current title holders. He has, in the past come close to breaking the monotony only to stumble at the last hurdle.
Four times he has appeared in a Grand Slam final -- two successive Australian Open, one each in Wimbledon and US Open. On each occasion, the world no 4 has swallowed the bitter pill. Thrice he has been beaten by Federer and once by Djokovic.
Will the glow of his shining yellow metal spread on to a silverware in New York?
Well, the setting is quite right for him. Rafael Nadal’s absence makes the field similar to the Olympics.
The only difference is the court.
Nevertheless, the challenge from defending champion Djokovic and the top-ranked Federer is as strong as it gets. The Serb had an outstanding last year when he became only the sixth man in the open era to claim three of the four majors in the same season sealing his status as the top player in the world.
The Swiss, who turned 31 earlier this month, ended a two-year ‘Majors Drought’ that began after his Australian Open win in 2010 by beating crowd favourite Andy Murray in the final of Wimbledon 2012. He regained the top spot in the men’s rankings and enters the tournament as a favourite.
Unlike 2011, the current season hasn’t been dominated by a single player that makes the impending clash on the flushing meadows even more intriguing.
Interesting to note here is the fact that Djokovic was the world no 1 when he took Australian Open, Nadal was no 2 when he took French while Federer was no 3 when he stamped his supremacy at Wimbledon this year. Murray is currently the world no 4 and who knows if the trend continues. Or has Nadal’s withdrawal jinxed it?