Sixth time’s a charm

This year’s Australian Open is going to be the first Grand Slam where Sir Andy Murray will be the top seed. He is a five time beaten finalist, losing to Novak Djokovic four times (2011,2013,2015,2016) and to Roger Federer once (2010). In fact, Murray has lost his last seven matches at the Australian Open to either Djokovic or Federer. This year, Federer has been drawn in Murray’s quarter, while Djokovic and Murray cannot meet before the finals. Outside the top two, the main hopes rest with reigning US Open Champion and 2014 Australian Open Champion Stan Wawrinka, World No. 3 Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori.

Murray has discovered a new dimension to his game, something he has devoted himself to with utmost determination. As if to underline his reputation as one of the greatest returners in the sport’s history, Murray has not failed to break an opponent’s serve in 112 straight matches.

With a win at the Australian Open for the first time followed by a maiden title at Roland Garros, Murray would boast of a more complete career than Federer, Nadal and Djokovic. Victories in Melbourne and Paris would make him only the second man in history, after his boyhood idol Andre Agassi, to accomplish ‘The Agassi Slam’ by winning all four majors, an Olympic gold, the Davis Cup and the World Tour Finals. Having been playing in the shadows of these three, he is better poised to achieve everything the sport has to offer before any of the three. Federer and Djokovic still have an Olympic gold medal missing while Murray has two, and Nadal is yet to win the World Tour Finals. With three Grand Slam titles, Murray is a long way behind Federer’s 17 majors, Nadal’s 14 or Djokovic’s 12, and there’s a fair chance he will never make it into double figures. But then, even though Pete Sampras won more Grand Slam titles than Andre Agassi (Sampras 14 Agassi 8) and had a great head to head record against him, Agassi achieved everything a tennis player dreams of.

Andy Murray has been nominated for the prestigious Laureus Award for Best Sportsperson of the Year for his phenomenal performance in 2016 alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, Mo Farah, Usain Bolt, Stephen Curry and LeBron James. Should he win this award, he will strike off another feat off his list. He will be the last of the Big Four to win this award. Roger Federer has won it four times (’05-’08), Novak Djokovic thrice (’12,’15-16) and Rafael Nadal once (’11).

Andy is better equipped to win the tournament this year as compared to his previous five finals, given the level he is playing at. He is motivated and has been duly appreciated for his achievements. If only he can use his physical form and current state of mind and turn it into a winning formulae.

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