fascinating to read John McEnroe's comments about the two Andys - Murray and
Roddick - being his favourites to win the US Open at Flushing Meadows. Mac is
spot on, because both have good chances - but one has a much better chance than
And that man is Andy Murray.
Roger Federer might be the bookies'
favourite, and the Swiss seems to have become a sort of Grand Slam specialist,
just as the Williams sisters are in the women's game. Federer never used to be
that way, but there's no doubt he is now only really interested in winning the
With that in mind, you need to take
a few wobbly results in other tournaments with a pinch of salt. That said, you
need a hell of a lot of salt to rub away the sort of capitulation he showed
against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga last week, where he blew a 5-1 lead in the final
Federer just isn't the player he
once was. He might still be world number one, and in my eyes he is the greatest
player in the history of the game - but he is still losing his powers, despite
his wins at Roland Garros and Wimbledon.
I still think he was handed both
those titles, and while it's not impossible that he will pull off another win
at the US Open, it's hard to see it happening.
As for Andy Roddick? A couple of
months ago I would have said that he had no chance at all of winning another
Grand Slam title. He had been so overshadowed by the world's top four for so
long that it looked like there was no way back.
But he's turned things around incredibly
well, finding that combination of belief and aggression that players need to
win the biggest tournaments.
It's hard to say whether his belief
has helped him to be more aggressive or whether a new aggression has boosted
his belief. It's a chicken and egg situation. But for my money, improvements to
his forehand and some extra bite in his backhand have been the keys for him.
Those improvements to his ground
strokes have made him a more complete player, and with that awesome serve -
that's as good as it ever was - he could genuinely challenge for the title in New York.
Roddick certainly has a better
chance than Rafael Nadal, who is clearly still not 100 per cent fit - and given
how much Nadal's game relies on his astounding physical condition, he is effectively
out of the running until he's back to full strength.
Nadal is just not right at the
moment, though, and from the way his season has gone it looks horribly like he
may never be, which would be a terrible shame for the world of tennis.
But with no Nadal to worry about
and Federer looking out of sorts, Andy Murray is the man to beat. His form and
confidence at the moment are absolutely sky-high.
Of course Murray has yet to prove he has the bottle to
win a five-set final in a Grand Slam, and there is always the danger that he
has peaked too soon.
On top of that, there's still a
physical question to be answered. Murray
is clearly awesomely fit, but going all the way through the draw in these
warm-up tournaments in the hot, humid conditions of the North American summer
is incredibly demanding.
Still, Murray's fitness is as good as anybody's
these days and he is surrounded with people to keep him in top shape.
On August 2009 form, Murray is the favourite
for the US Open for no other reason than that he is currently the best player
in the world. And whatever happens at Flushing Meadows I believe he will soon
become world number one.