• What The Deuce

Now watch Murray go

ESPN staff
August 14, 2012
Andy Murray can end his wait for grand slam glory in New York © Getty Images

Winning Olympic gold doesn't necessarily put Andy Murray on the path to greatness, but his success at London 2012 reaffirms the belief he is a grand slam winner in waiting.

Let's not kid ourselves, he may have won the first set but the Scot was soundly beaten in the Wimbledon showpiece by Roger Federer - another major final reverse and another chance for question marks to be raised over his prospects of breaking his slam duck.

No doubt feeling dejected and pretty wiped out, both mentally and physically, Murray could easily have sloped off into the wilderness for several weeks/months - as he has done before following such heartbreak - but instead, 28 days later, he returned to the scene of his heart-wrenching four-set defeat to prove to everyone he can dethrone one of the greatest ever in a best-of-five set final.

I say prove; Murray's talent has not just been unearthed, he's been dining at the top table for a good while now. But more for his own piece of mind he now, unequivocally, knows what can be achieved when he hits top gear.

At 25, Murray is entering his best years and now is the time for him to capitalise on his biggest triumph to date. He has the tools, he has Ivan Lendl in his corner and, perhaps most important of all, it would appear he has developed the mind of a winner.

It's no longer the case that you expect the Brit to crumble when the going gets tough, when his back is flat against the wall. He has developed a steeliness, an edge that was missing, and when faced with challenging moments on the court there is a growing expectation he will somehow come up with the right answers.

Having surrendered two break points in the opening game of the Olympic final, Murray fended them both off and went on to secure a stunning 6-2 6-1 6-4 victory. Had he handed the initiative to Federer, who knows how the outcome would have been affected. He didn't, he showed great resolve, and went on to have a gold medal hung around his neck.

He will still lose his serve - that is a certainty, but a new-found belief and mental toughness have slowly been developed and that's what is enabling him to play with more freedom and greater authority.

For years people have been imploring the British No. 1 to take the bull by the horns, to stand on the baseline and become the aggressor, and he has finally listened. For a long time Murray would hand the initiative to his opponent by being too passive, consequently losing momentum and inviting pressure. In his gold medal match against the Swiss maestro, seldom did he take a backward step, preferring to ask his more illustrious opponent questions that proved unanswerable.

This change has not happened overnight; rather it has been born out of the ashes of his grand slam final reverses (in case you need reminding, there's been four of them). There's no suggestion he wouldn't change any of those results in a heartbeat if he could, but it's pretty clear those chastening experiences, as well as the Lendl factor, have helped mould a new Murray, a Murray ready to take that final step.

So, is the US Open, which starts on August 27, Murray's to lose? Of course not. But, at last, he heads to Flushing Meadows in the knowledge he can beat the world No. 1 when it matters most.

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