Andy Murray’s recent victory at the Sony Open in Miami came at just the right time as the young Scot charts his ascent in the world rankings. He is now ranked No. 2, a position he has not held since 2009, having overtaken Roger Federer in that position and is now poised just behind the Serb Djokovic.
After the end to the 2012 season which saw a direct struggle between Murray and Djokovic at Greenwich, the halt to Nadal’s progress due to injury and the apparent slide in Federer’s fortunes, Murray’s No. 2 ranking to many, is simply making official what many in the game have already internalised: that Murray is the second best player in the world.
Murray is no stranger to Miami, having won there already in 2009. Not to underestimate his win there or his opponent in this year’s final (Ferrer), he was fortunate not to have had to encounter Federer or Nadal (neither of whom competed), nor Djokovic (who went out to Haas in the fourth round). Having lost the first set to Ferrer, Murray managed to win the match in a tie-break third set – a measure of his opponent’s strength.
Winning in Miami as the ‘business end’ of the 2013 season rolls into view in the coming weeks, is exquisite timing for Murray. The Continental clay court tournaments, including the key event at Roland Garros, are now nicely teed up for a player like Murray with ‘momentum’.
Needless to say, the Continental players on the Tour (chief among them, Nadal) will be keen competitors for the spoils in these events, so there is no room for any Murray complacency. Djokovic, Nadal and Federer, in particular, have all been there many times before and will continue to be the main threats to Murray. The spring events lay down a potential springboard for the French and for Wimbledon and give the tennis public a good idea of impending form.
Clearly, the impact of Ivan Lendl’s tutelage on Murray’s game has been telling over an extended period of time. The grit, determination and attention to detail Lendl showed in his own professional career are now at the disposal of Murray – this experience has visibly translated itself into Murray’s performances of late.
A greater sense of maturity and perspective are also evident in Murray’s public comments about his own performances and those of his opponents.
At only 25, he has had to grow up fairly quickly and has carried himself well as the responsibilities of ‘star status’ have landed on his shoulders. The No.2 ranking will have given him a boost, but we all know that the ambitious Scot will not want to settle there. In such fine current form, he remains poised to lay down serious challenges for the coming events of early spring.