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High Expectations for Andy Murray at U.S. Open After Winning Gold: A Fan's Opinion

Yahoo Contributor Network

Winning an Olympic gold medal is changing how Andy Murray is perceived.

Before Murray's triumph in London, critics doubted his ability to win a grand slam against the triumvirate of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Since becoming an Olympic champion in London, Murray is now emerging as a dark-horse pick to win his first career Grand Slam title in the 2012 U.S. Open.

Former grand-slam winners Mats Wilander and Goran Ivanisevic both publicly predicted that Murray will finally claim his first Grand Slam singles title in New York. Both Wilander and Ivanisevic point to the influence of Ivan Lendl in helping Murray become a better player.

Since taking on Lendl as his coach, Murray has improved his game in tactical areas. Most notably, his forehand is much stronger than in past years. The biggest improvement for Murray, though, has come on the mental side of things. He is much more composed on the court and seems more equipped to deal with the pressures of playing in big matches.

Winning an Olympic gold medal is a huge deal to any athlete. For Murray, it finally offers proof that a grand-slam breakthrough might be around the corner. He looked very impressive in engineering a 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 Olympic defeat of Federer after falling to him in the 2012 Wimbledon final. It stands to reason that Murray is carrying momentum from the Olympics in to Flushing Meadows.

Success in the U.S. Open would not be a new development for Murray. He won the U.S. Open junior title in 2004. Murray later reached the 2008 U.S. Open final, where he fell to Federer.

The biggest thing Murray proved in the Olympics is that he has the potential to handle Djokovic and Federer back to back. Murray knocked off Djokovic 7-5, 7-5 in the Olympic semifinals to secure a trip to his victorious final match against Federer. Managing to achieve such a rare victory sweep can boost any tennis player's confidence and infuse him with a positive attitude. Murray is not lacking confidence going to New York.

If Murray does win the 2012 U.S. Open, it would finally ease the stranglehold over Grand Slams by Djokovic, Federer and Nadal. The trio of tennis legends have combined to win 29 of the last 30 Grand Slams. The lone winner outside that triumvirate in that time was Juan Del Porto, the 2009 U.S. Open winner.

Murray finally winning one of the four Grand Slams would mean the step forward he took at the Olympics was the beginning of a new phase of success in his tennis career.

John Coon has covered tennis at all levels as a sports reporter based in Salt Lake City. Coon was raised in a tennis loving family. All three of his sisters played competitively and Coon himself enjoys playing at a recreational level.

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