Murray's time has arrived

  • By: Andy Schooler (Twitter: @NetTalkTennis)
  • Last Updated: October 3 2012, 15:57 BST

Kim Clijsters' memorable 'second career' - her words not mine - came to an end at the hands of Briton Laura Robson at the recent US Open.

Is the US Open the first of many for Andy Murray?

But for another British star, career 2.0 is only just beginning.

This week in Tokyo, Andy Murray will be introduced as the US Open champion when he walks onto court and we'll get our first glance at what effect having a Grand Slam on the CV will have on the world number three.

Don't be too surprised that, in the short term, the benefits fail to be seen.

Recent history suggests it can be a struggle to maintain form after the US Open as the season draws towards its conclusion at the ATP World Tour Finals in London.

In 2009 the winner in New York, Juan Martin Del Potro, returned in Tokyo and duly lost in the first round to the 189th-ranked Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

The following year Rafael Nadal left Flushing Meadows with the trophy only to lose to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, the world number 53, in Bangkok.

And last year Novak Djokovic was beaten by Kei Nishikori, down at 32nd in the ranking list, in his first ATP tournament back.

Anyone who followed Djokovic at this time last year would have seen an ailing player struggling to replicate the efforts of the first eight months of the season.

Given Murray has had the addition of the Olympics to deal with this year, his body seems likely to be feeling the effects of a demanding season too.

He'll naturally want to avoid the way Djokovic waned at the end of 2011 and some have suggested the prospect of still ending the year as world number one will keep him motivated.

However, a look at the rankings shows that is unlikely to happen.

Roger Federer tops the current list but his sensational finish to last season means he is more likely to lose points from here on in than gain them.

Djokovic is the man poised to end the season as top dog as he faces the opposite scenario - his end-of-season struggles in 2011 mean he doesn't have that many points to defend on the rolling 12-month system.

The Serb leads Murray by almost 2,000 points - the amount a Grand Slam winner collects - so you can see that Murray's task, while not an impossible one, is certainly difficult.

While painting a somewhat negative picture of Murray's short and medium-term future, the same cannot be said of his long-term goals - and these far outweigh title hopes in Tokyo or hitting top spot in the next few weeks.

The monkey is well and truly off Murray's back now after the joyous scenes at Flushing Meadows.

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It is not difficult to imagine that the 25-year-old will now have a different attitude entering the major tournaments from now on. It will be one with significantly less pressure, while the nerves which appeared to jangle so often at big moments should also have calmed under the influence of their owner knowing they have been overcome before.

Tennis is not the only sport in which the experts will tell you "winning the first title is the hardest" and I for one now expect Murray to push on and add to his Grand Slam collection.

I've written plenty of times how I feared Murray would continue to miss out on the game's top prizes, such was the strength of his tennis era, but now the situation has changed and it would appear to have done so at a good time for the Scot.

The knee problems of Rafael Nadal appear more serious than ever right now, while Djokovic's aura of invincibility has been dismantled this season showing many were too quick to label the Serb one of the all-time greats on the back of one superb year.

And then there's a certain Mr Federer. The Swiss has rewritten chapter after chapter of the tennis record books over the past 10 years but at 31 he simply has to heading towards the end of his career. Since Arthur Ashe's famous Wimbledon win in 1975, only Andre Agassi (32 when he won the 2003 Australian Open) has won at a Slam at an age higher than Federer's.

All of which plays into Murray's hands - as does the lack of talent breaking through from the lower ranks.

Right now Milos Raonic would appear to be the best of the emerging bunch but he's yet to progress beyond the last 16 at the four majors and while hardly over the hill, he will be 22 by the time the new season begins. Kei Nishikori, another 'youngster' in the top 20 will be 23.

Murray's coach, Ivan Lendl, famously lost his first four Grand Slam finals - just like his protégé - before going on to cement his name in the list of greats. He finished with eight major titles to his name.

While predicting anything of the sort for Murray at this stage would be pure folly, the future certainly does look bright for him as he prepares to play in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Do you agree with Andy? Is Murray destined for more Grand Slam glory? Let us know your thoughts by emailing tennisfeedback@sportinglife.com or tweeting them to @NetTalkTennis.