Andy Murray is generally regarded as the best tennis player, outside of the Big Three, on the ATP Tour. Unfortunately for Murray, the fourth-ranked tennis player in the world, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Rafael Nadal always seem to be in the mix.
Such is life for the 25-year-old Murray, who lost to Federer in this year's Wimbledon final, then won gold for Britain at the Summer Olympics in London. Murray is the best active player to never win a major. You'll have to forgive him for that. After all, the Big Three have won 29 of the last 30.
Murray's career resume is impressive, despite the absence of a Grand Slam title. In 2008, he lost to Federer in the Open finals. In 2010 and 2011, he lost in the finals of the Australian Open, first to Federer and then to Djokovic. Also in 2011, he reached the semifinals of all four Grand Slams. He's won 23 singles titles and has a 363-118 career record.
But Murray is 0-4 in Grand Slam finals, where he can't seem to get past Federer or Djokovic. Tomorrow he'll have to worry about Djokovic, who has an 8-6 record against Murray. Djokovic beat Murray in the semifinals of this year's Australian Open, but Murray knocked Djokovic out of the Olympics in the semifinals. The defending U.S. Open champion is also 25, but has five Grand Slam titles.
Murray has been playing great tennis in 2012, winning 48 matches and two titles. And while Djokovic looked real good against David Ferrer when they returned to the court on Sunday morning, dominating the last three sets after Ferrer finished off the first, Murray's win over Tomas Berdych a day earlier was impressive as well. While Berdych struggled with the windy conditions, Murray seemed to do a better job adjusting to the elements, not letting them affect him, and playing his best tennis. After losing the first set, he came back to win the next three. As a result, he finds himself matched up against a familiar foe.
At Wimbledon, there was a lot of pressure on Murray because he was playing in front of his home crowd. At the Open, he'll just have to contend with the pressures of playing in a Grand Slam final. And then there's this: Murray is trying to become the first British man to win a Grand Slam title in 76 years. The poor guy can never seem to escape the drama. A win tomorrow would set him free.
To say this is Murray's last chance is jumping the gun. At 25, he's playing his best tennis. Federer is 31 and who knows how much longer he'll be able to hold on to the top spot. Nadal is 26 and his body isn't cooperating. There should be more opportunities for Murray.
But his best chance to get that title might be when he doesn't have to contend with the presence of Federer or Nadal through the grueling stretch of a two-week tournament. This is the first time since 2004 that both Federer and Nadal did not advance to the semifinals of a major tournament. That said, and considering the tennis he's playing, it seems logical to conclude that this may be Murray's best chance to win a major.
When Murray takes the court tomorrow afternoon at Arthur Ashe Stadium, staring at him from across the net will be one of the Big Three. Andy Murray is used to this by now.
Charles Costello, a Yahoo! Sports Featured Contributor, has been following tennis since the 1980s.
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