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Can Andy Murray win two Grand Slams in a row?

Ivan Lendl and Andy Murray
by Mark Hodgkinson
Thursday 10 January 2013
Roger Federer couldn't do it. It was beyond Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic, too. Pete Sampras, Bjorn Borg, Andre Agassi, Boris Becker, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, and every other Hollywood name of modern times, fell short.
 
But perhaps Andy Murray has it in him. Will this month's Australian Open see the US Open champion become the only first-time Grand Slam winner of the Open era to immediately score a second major at the next opportunity?
 
Figures compiled by Sporting Intelligence show that it took Federer two Slams to go from first-time champion to serial winner - his first triumph was at the 2003 Championships at Wimbledon and his second came at the 2004 Australian Open. There was a longer wait for Nadal, whose first Slam victory was at the 2005 French Open and whose second was at the same tournament the following spring. And Djokovic had a dry run for three years - after his breakthrough victory at the 2008 Australian Open, he did not win another major until the same Slam in 2011.
 
But can Murray achieve what Federer, Nadal and Djokovic couldn't? "I think Andy is well placed to become the first man of the Open era to do this," Mark Petchey, one of Murray's former coaches, told Wimbledon.com. "He's going to be relaxed, he's going to be super-confident. There's been a lot of criticism of Andy over the years, and he answered it by winning the US Open. These players are human and after winning a first grand slam there's bound to be a period of evaluation, and a resetting of goals. For years, you've been working to win your first Grand Slam, and now you've done it, so what now? Becoming a Grand Slam champion is a big change. But anyone who knows Andy will appreciate that he's still going to be as focused as ever, that he will keep on working. He wants to be a serial champion, a multiple champion."
 
Petchey argued that the conditions at Melbourne Park suit Murray. "In the past, he's played some exceptional tennis at the Australian Open, and it's taken some great performances, such as Djokovic's in last year's semi-finals, to stop him. Andy plays well in Melbourne. That's because he's a great hard-court player. And also because the tournament comes after he's put in a lot of hard work in Miami. Physically, he will be in as good shape as anyone else. I think Nadal's absence changes the dynamic at Melbourne Park," said Petchey, a supporter of the Barclays Ball Kids scheme. "Over five sets, Nadal is the one who tends to cause the biggest trouble for Andy. I think any tennis fan will be disappointed that Nadal won't be in Melbourne, but there's no doubt that it makes a big difference to Murray's chances of winning the Australian Open."
 
Petchey said that the public perception of Murray has changed. "There's been harsh criticism of Andy, and before that, of Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski. But Andy let his racket do the talking by winning big events, the Olympics and the US Open. Andy's tears at Wimbledon was a seminal moment as a lot of people realised just how much he cared. And I think a lot of people's perception of Andy changed after he took gold at the Olympics, as then people thought he was a winner."

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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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