The Scot finally delivered on his enormous promise and potential in 2012, winning his first Grand Slam title at the US Open and ending a much-publicised 76-year drought of male British major winners. With that enormous weight lifted from his shoulders, do bigger things lie ahead in 2013?
Strengths: Murray’s strength arguably lies in the fact that he has no obvious weaknesses. Dependable groundstrokes, excellent court coverage, an underrated serve and command over every shot in the book make the world No.3 a threat on any surface against any opponent. Teaming with Ivan Lendl in 2012 also helped the Scot develop a more aggressive mindset and tap into once under-utilised reserves of power.
Weaknesses: Unlike his Big Four rivals, taking command of points does not come naturally to Murray. This can lead to him getting embroiled in unnecessarily long, grinding Grand Slam matches that sap his strength and stamina, which has been suspect over the years. And although he has shown an improved ability in channelling negative emotions, periods of malaise, scowling, swearing and generally bad body language can give opponents the mental edge.
Opportunities: Now that the monkey is off his back and the belief continues to grow, Murray could very well add to his major tally. The slow hard courts of Melbourne Park are simply tailor-made for his game, and a Grand Slam-winning performance could position him within striking distance of an assault on the No.1 ranking, which would cap an extraordinary 12 months in the Scot's flourishing career.
Threats: In the last 12 Grand Slam tournaments he’s contested, Murray has lost to a player outside the top four just three times. So like every member of the Big Four, his main threat is the others in that elite group. While Murray is yet to taste success Down Under, Federer, Nadal and Djokovic all have the knowledge of what it takes to win at Melbourne Park and the confidence that comes from doing so.
Craig Tiley, Australian Open tournament director
“Murray’s gotten over the hump of winning a Grand Slam, so that pressure is off him now. Had Djokovic not won the ATP World Tour Finals I’d say that Murray would be coming in as the hottest player. As a finalist here, he’s got something to prove.”