What to expect in 2013: Andy Murray
Going into 2013, it's finally safe to say that Andy Murray is no longer a 'wannabe'. As of July 2012, very few players in tennis history were under an amount of pressure quite as heavy as Andy was this summer. The Scott went into the Wimbledon Championships after having a rather disappointing start to the season and with a lot of eyes pointed at him.
The heartbreaking loss to Roger Federer in the final led to what was probably the biggest wave of doubts by the general public about Murray's ability to ever win a big title. The irony: It was also the very last one.
The Olympic Gold was a huge success and a big relief after Wimbledon, but Andy was still seeking his maiden Grand Slam title. Fortunately, the inevitable could only be delayed for so long. On September 10th, 2012, I was in Arthur Ashe Stadium, witnessing Andy Murray play his last service game before becoming a Slam champion.
Next year, for a change, Murray finally won't have so much to prove. Question is: Will he lose motivation after his biggest achievement yet, or will he finally feel confident in his own shoes going into a big match?
I'm not gonna lie, his losses in the last 2 matches against Djokovic (which he clearly should have won) are a concern in my eyes, but I still think he is likely to have his best season so far in 2013, for a simple reason: Even without a Grand Slam title, Andy was always a major threat to every top player on tour. His US Open victory, as overdue as it was, did not come after producing anything close to his peak form, but was still pretty never-in-doubt to happen sooner or later. This one fact is what makes a phenomenal difference between him and someone like Del Potro, and what makes me believe that despite having only 1 Slam title, he will be a permanent top 3-4 contender at every single tournament from now on.
And finally, let's talk numbers. He still needs to prove himself a bit before I consider him winning more than one Slam a year as a very likely option. Between one major and none at all next year, I'd say that at least one victory is a pretty safe bet. Once again, his chances to win anything huge on clay are slim, but if I had to choose between the other three, I'd say his absolute best chance next year will be at Wimbledon.
How about becoming world number 1 in 2013? No, not yet. Murray's current combination of skill, consistency and mental strength is not enough to dominate a field that contains Federer, Nadal and Djokovic. For now.