It was “the biggest the win of my life,” Andy Murray said after completely dismantling Roger Federer to win the gold medal at the 2012 Olympics. With his recent Wimbledon run and Olympic gold, Murray has taken his game to new heights, and now has people wondering how much better can he get? Granted, he didn’t have to face any of the top 3 until the finals at Wimbledon, and Great Britain was riding a huge wave of success on their home turf during the Olympics. Has Andy simply been a recipient of some recent good fortune, or with his recent results is he establishing himself amongst the game’s elite? Has the “Top 3″ turned into the “Top 4″, and has he moved past Rafael Nadal, given his health, on the list of favorites for the US Open?
For the last four years, Andy Murray has definitively been the fourth best player in the world behind the top 3 of Djokovic, Federer, and Nadal. The top 3 have won 29 of the last 30 Grand Slam titles, with Murray yet to win one. However, in that time Murray has reached four Grand Slam finals, and has won 20 ATP titles since 2008. He’s consistently been better than the next tier of top players, like Tsonga, Ferrer, Berdych, Del Potro, who have all had great results but haven’t been able to sustain the high level like Murray has. So, what’s different now? After winning Olympic gold, why would people think that he’s finally over the hump and should be considered in the same echelon as the Big 3?
When it’s crunch time in the big matches against the best players, Andy has buckled under the pressure. Along with some glimpses of excellence, he’s shown more bouts of immaturity and negativity on the court. He was even seen yelling at his mother in his player’s box during the 2011 Australian Open! With arguably some of the greatest players of all time playing right now, those mental lapses have cost him in big matches, when there is not very much margin for error. However, recently Murray is finally showing personal growth, and above anything else he’s been much more positive and mentally tough on court. For a guy with so much natural talent and athleticism, he’s now finally maturing and his mental game is improving as well. Who knows if it’s age, or his new coach Ivan Lendl, but he’s becoming a man on court and handling the pressure better than ever. “I’m able to deal with the situations better now. I felt much more comfortable on the court,” Murray said following the Olympic final.
Don’t be concerned about the early withdrawal from Rogers Cup this week. He’s being smart and managing his body so that he can make a run at the US Open title, and you better believe he’ll be in the running. Physically, Murray’s been fit enough and striking the ball well enough to win a major, but the mental game hasn’t been at the same level. Now, he’s mature, being more positive, and is handling the pressure. Watch out…with added confidence from his recent success, Murray’s best tennis is coming!