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Murray's Miami win gives pause for positive thought

Andy Murray won Miami in 2013
by Simon Cambers
Thursday 4 April 2013

Could Andy Murray leave SW19 this year as not only Wimbledon champion but world No.1 as well? Wimbledon.com investigates...

When Andy Murray won his first Grand Slam title at last year’s US Open, not only did he break a 76-year duck for British men in the four biggest events, he also fulfilled a career dream. Time and time again, Murray would say, ‘if I don’t win one, then it will be because I am not good enough’. That thought went out of the window as Novak Djokovic was beaten in five sets.

The good news for Murray fans is that far from resting on his laurels, the Scot is hoping to fulfil his two other main career goals by becoming world No.1 and winning Wimbledon. By happy coincidence, should he lift the trophy on Centre Court this summer, it could coincide with his ascension to the No.1 spot.

His victory in the Miami Masters 1000 event last weekend lifted Murray to No.2, replacing Roger Federer, the man who broke his heart in the final at Wimbledon last summer. On paper, the gap between himself and Djokovic at the top of the rankings looks huge and there is no question it is going to be tough to bridge, at least quickly. However, rankings can change quickly and if Djokovic were to lose early at the French Open, for example, then Murray could close the gap fast.

If he stays at No.2, Murray would be seeded in the top two for the first time, which ought to improve his chance of victory, although he could still have to play Federer in the semis and then Djokovic or Rafa Nadal in the final. But should he win the title, then he will be gaining 800 points on last year, which could go a long way to helping him up to the No.1 spot.

When he took a break from tournaments in favour of a month of training in February, Murray emphasised that it would help him be a little fresher when it came to the gruelling clay-court season and then the all-too-brief grass-court season. The competition is incredibly high but even if it gives him five per cent extra, that might be enough to push him over the line at Wimbledon.

Murray has reached the last three Grand Slam successive finals, an achievement that deserves an awful lot of credit, not least since John Lloyd (at the Australian Open in 1977) and Greg Rusedski (at the US Open in 1997) were the only two British men to reach a Grand Slam final since 1938. Throw in the fact that he also won the Olympics at Wimbledon last August and his consistency at the very top level has improved beyond recognition.

Winning Miami gave him a rankings boost and doing well on clay over the next two months will give him another. Should he finish on top of the pile at Wimbledon in June, then he really could be top of the world. 

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The other news emanating from Miami was of course the record-breaking achievement of Serena Williams, who became the first woman to capture six Key Biscayne singles titles in what was her 48th career title and 66th match win of the past 12 months. In that time, she has suffered just four losses. And to do so, Williams had to win ugly, showing an imperious level of mental fortitude to recover from a set and 4-1 down to Dominika Cibulkova in the fourth round, 5-2 down to Li Na in the second set of the quarter-finals and a set and a break down to Maria Sharapova in the final. Cementing her place as the leading lady in women's tennis, Serena also became the oldest Miami champion, at the age of 31 years and six months. 

There was some comfort for Maria Sharapova, however, who was bidding to win the Indian Wells and Miami tournaments back to back, only to suffer her 11th straight loss to Williams. But in reaching the final, she became only the third woman to pass $25 million in prize money, behind the two Williams sisters. 

Can Williams continue her form as she turns her attention to clay, and all the bad memories of Roland Garros 2012? We'll know in a few months. 

Alexandra Willis


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