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Weekly Slice: Opportunity awaits Murray

Busted Racquet

FIRST SERVE

Opportunity beckons for Andy Murray this summer, just as the gaze of men's tennis fixates once more upon its two biggest stars.

All eyes will be on Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as the U.S. hard-court swing gets into full flow this week, but the man with most to gain is the world No. 3.

Murray has had to take a back seat of late, with the tennis world's focus on Federer, as he gets back on court after becoming a father, and Nadal, who returns from knee problems.

But it is Murray who could be smiling the broadest in a couple of weeks' time, as he is presented with a huge window of opportunity ahead of the U.S. Open.

If Murray performs strongly over the next few weeks he could leapfrog Nadal into second on the ATP list before heading to Flushing Meadows.

That would mean he is guaranteed to avoid being in the same half of the draw as Federer in New York, a significant advantage given the Swiss maestro's spectacular recent form.

Murray is at home on the cement and and beat Nadal in the semifinals of last year's U.S. Open before falling to Federer in the final.

He left his "home" Grand Slam at Wimbledon in disappointment, after falling to Andy Roddick in the semifinals.

If the young Scottish player is to flex his muscles and prove himself as a worthy contender to Federer and Nadal for major honors, then he needs to make this his time.

DROP SHOT

Richard Gasquet thought his nightmare year was about to improve when an independent doping tribunal ruled he had taken cocaine inadvertently. However, a joint appeal by the International Tennis Federation and the World Anti-Doping Agency means he has to go before the courts once more to clear his name.

CLEAN WINNER

Kim Clijsters made a welcome return to the WTA Tour this week, beating 12th-seeded Marion Bartoli in her first match in Cincinnati. Clijsters' comeback adds color and interest to the women's field at the U.S. Open, where she is fully capable of springing some big upsets.

Clijsters was one of the most likeable and popular players on the circuit before retiring to become a mother two years ago and tennis is glad to see her back on court.

USE YOUR FREQUENT FLYER MILES

Time to brush up on your French and head north as Montreal hosts the Rogers Cup this week. Rafael Nadal is back in action and looking to re-establish his dominance over the men's game but faces a superb field, with Robin Soderling the only top-16 player missing.

LAST WEEK'S WINNERS

Legg Mason Tennis Classic, Washington, D.C.: Juan Martin del Potro

L.A. Women's Championships: Flavia Pennetta

THIS WEEK'S PREDICTIONS

Rogers Cup, Montreal: Andy Murray

Western and Southern Financial Group Open: Venus Williams

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