It may be a bold statement, but following his Wimbledon and Olympic experiences, Andy Murray is now ready to join the elite of tennis by becoming a Grand Slam winner, starting at the upcoming U.S. Open.
Murray took a huge step forward at the Olympic Games, where not only did he defeat world No. 1, Roger Federer, to win gold in a one-sided straight sets final victory, but he also beat world No. 2 Novak Djokovic in straight sets in the semifinal.
If Murray can learn one thing from these last two matches, it will be that he does have the mental toughness to beat his closest rivals in matches on the biggest stage.
Murray's game is as good as anyone's in the game on his day. He has every shot in the book, he is arguably the best returner in the world, he has outrageous fitness and speed levels and if his first serve is consistent he becomes virtually unbeatable. Only his mindset and, particularly, belief in himself has stood in his way in previous Grand Slam finals.
When Murray met Federer in the Wimbledon final last month, the Scot won the opening set and his first set in a Grand Slam final at the fourth time of asking, but he failed to maintain the advantage in the subsequent three sets that followed.
However, the Olympic final gave Murray the chance to avenge that defeat. After taking the first set, he almost tangibly grew in confidence as he realised he could take set two and set three, which he did with almost consummate ease, leaving the 17-time Grand Slam champion with no response to fighting back.
Murray was simply awesome in winning gold at London 2012, and in doing so has raised the benchmark for himself.
He now goes to Flushing Meadows for the U.S. Open where for the first time he has been made the 7/2 second favorite with British bookmakers to end his Grand Slam drought behind defending championDjokovic, but ahead of former champions Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Those odds speak volumes as to how Murray is currently viewed by the tennis world and the huge influence that his Olympic victory has had on the men's game.
Murray will warm up for the U.S. Open by looking to win the Masters 1000 in Cincinnati. Victory there would ensure his confidence remains "sky high" going to New York, where he will be seeded fourth. In all likelihood, he will either have to play both Djokovic and Federer en route to the final, thus being called upon to pick up where he left off at the Olympics.
The signs are all there for Murray to finally achieve what his undoubted talents richly deserve, and fans of the game, love him or loathe him, will well be applauding him as the new U.S. Open champion come September 9.