Andy Murray is a shy man, happier away from the limelight than in it. But if there was ever one thing that was going to make him feel proud, wanted and respected, then the return to his home town of Dunblane in Scotland last weekend was it.
The small town was packed with well-wishers as Murray spent four and a half hours chatting to old friends, neighbours and who knows, perhaps promising young players for whom his wins both at the Olympics and the US Open may inspire them to try to follow in his footsteps.
That would be a legacy well worth leaving in itself but Murray is determined not to be a one-Slam wonder. He may be playing in what many people believe to be the strongest ever era in the men’s game but doing so has made him a better player and having proved he can win at the very highest level, despite the strength in depth, his confidence should be sky-high.
Coping with reaching the top, or winning that first Slam can be problematic for some players. Since 1987, the year that Pat Cash won Wimbledon, there have been 15 one-hit wonders, men who never managed to win another one. Such has been the domination of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the past seven years that only Juan Martin Del Potro, at the US Open in 2009, has slipped through the net. Injuries have stopped him from getting close since.
You could count Murray as the 16th, but aside from being harsh as he has not had time to try to win more yet, there are differences between him and almost all of those 15. Six of them were older than the 25-year-old and of the younger ones Cash, Richard Krajicek, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Del Potro have had chronic injury problems.
Players like Petr Korda (1998 Australian Open champion), Thomas Johansson (2002 Australian Open), Albert Costa (2002 French Open) and Gaston Gaudio (2004 French Open) were considered, even at the time, to have just struck it lucky. Indeed, shortly after winning in Paris, Gaudio famously described himself as “the worst Grand Slam champion ever”.
Del Potro may yet recover and “do a Marat (Safin)" and win another later on, but that leaves just four – Michael Stich, Michael Chang, Carlos Moya and Andy Roddick. Each of them went close to winning again – Moya made one more final; Stich and Chang two apiece and Roddick managed three, all at Wimbledon, all denied by Roger Federer, a feeling Murray knows only too well after this summer’s Championships.
So history is at least on Murray’s side, given his age, his fitness and relatively injury-free run and the fact that his win came on the hard courts of the US Open, where Roddick and Del Potro are the only other one-Slam wonders since 1987. In fact, in the Open Era, there has been just one other in New York – Manuel Orantes in 1975.
Murray is in his absolute prime and given some luck with injuries over the next few years, he ought to have many more chances to add to his tally, especially at Wimbledon where he enjoys the surface and has the support of the home crowd.
After the emotional visit to Dunblane, which itself came after a hectic round of media engagements to celebrate his US Open win, Murray had one day off (which he spent at the Burberry show in London’s Fashion Week) and then began training in earnest, ahead of a pretty demanding autumn schedule, with five tournaments planned.
The world No.3, who has designs on the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals and Federer’s world No.1 ranking, is due to play in Tokyo, starting a week on Monday, followed by the Masters 1000 event in Shanghai, then on to Basle, the Paris Masters 1000 and finally London.
It’s a gruelling schedule and he may choose to rest on one of those weeks if it affects his chances of peaking in London. But Murray is riding two waves right now, one of confidence and one of crowd support and he is likely to respond with more top performances, rather than be overwhelmed by it all.
20:08It brings me no pleasure but it's time to bring the curtain down for another year. Seemed somehow appropriate to leave the last word to Roger Federer. Thanks a billion for reading. What a fortnight, what a final, fast forward to 2015 please...
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