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Tennis legends tip Murray for grand slam glory at U.S. Open

updated 8:08 AM EDT, Mon August 27, 2012
Andy Murray won men's singles gold at London 2012 as well as mixed doubles' silver alongside Laura Robson.
Andy Murray won men's singles gold at London 2012 as well as mixed doubles' silver alongside Laura Robson.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Seven-time grand slam winner Mats Wilander tips Andy Murray for U.S. Open glory
  • Murray achieved the biggest win of his career by beating Roger Federer in Olympic final
  • The world No. 4 has been beaten in four previous grand slam finals
  • Murray drawn to face Federer in semifinals at Flushing Meadows

(CNN) -- It was a sight Andy Murray's hordes of British fans had longed to see -- the world No. 4 celebrating on Wimbledon's Centre Court after defeating Roger Federer in a final.

Murray's emphatic straight-sets triumph over the world No. 1 in the men's singles gold medal match at London 2012 showed that, despite tasting defeat in four major finals, the Scot could finally be ready to win his first grand slam title at the U.S. Open.

That is the view of former major winners Mats Wilander and Goran Ivanisevic, who have tipped the third seed to break his major hoodoo in New York -- where Murray was beaten by Federer in the 2008 final.

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"My prediction for the U.S. Open is Andy Murray winning," seven-time grand slam champion Wilander told the ATP Champions Tour website ahead of next week's opening matches in the two-week tournament at Flushing Meadows.

"I'm not saying that just because he won the Olympics, it's because I think that he's a different man.

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"I think that Ivan Lendl has helped him tremendously. He's becoming better physically all the time, he hits his forehand better, but the biggest difference is emotionally.

"He's more even-keeled, he's more positive, and there's not as much pressure for him at the U.S. Open as there is at Wimbledon."

Murray, who will play American Alex Bogomolov Jr. in the U.S. Open first round, won the Flushing Meadows event as a junior in 2004 but has so far been frustrated in three grand slam title matches by 17-time grand slam winner Federer -- including in last month's Wimbledon final.

He lost to former world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in last year's Australian Open final, but defeated the Serbian in the Olympic semis this month.

Wilander, who won the U.S. Open in 1988 as he topped the world rankings, believes the 25-year-old Murray can produce his top form on his favorite hard-court surface.

"The hard courts in New York are a little quicker than in Australia, which suit him," said the Swede. "I do think Andy Murray is one-up against Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic after the Olympics -- he knows that he can beat them back-to-back now.

"I think five-set matches, with the attitude he has now, are going to favor him and when he plays well with a good attitude he is at least as good a player as the other top three."

Murray is bidding to become the first British male to win a grand slam title since Fred Perry in 1936, and he is more confident than ever he can deliver a long-awaited success.

"I think in the short term (my confidence has grown), certainly," Murray, who became the first British man to reach the Wimbledon final since 1938, told the U.S. Open's official website.

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"But things change in tennis and in sport really, really quick. In the immediate aftermath of big wins or good tournaments, normally you'll feel quite confident and comfortable going for your shots in the important moments and even at the beginning of matches."

Murray also hailed the impact of coach Lendl, who knows what it takes to win grand slams having claimed eight during an 18-year playing career in which he topped the world rankings.

"Tactically, for sure, he's very good," Murray said of the Czech-born American. "Very minor technical things. But also just his experience, knowing how to schedule your tournaments. A year like this year is incredibly busy, very different to what we're used to with the Olympics.

"Having someone like him around who understands that, can also pass on his experiences to not just me but the rest of my team, as well, he's been a huge benefit.

"Also, after I lost Wimbledon, having someone like him who's been through that before to talk to, the best ways to deal with it and move on from it, all that stuff's helped. That's why I wanted to work with him. Not just me, but my whole team's enjoyed having him around. I hope he's enjoyed it, too."

One man who knows all about waiting for a first grand slam title is Ivanisevic.

The Croatian did not play in a major final until his remarkable run to the Wimbledon title as a wildcard in 2001 -- 13 years after turning professional.

The former world No. 2 doesn't see the absence of injured 11-time grand slam champion Rafael Nadal as having any bearing on Murray's chances.

"I think Andy is ready, with or without him," said Ivanisevic. "He has beaten Rafa before anyway. If Andy plays well, he can win it.

"I would really like to see him win it -- he deserves it. He played a really great Olympic Games and I think this will give him extra motivation and confidence. The U.S. Open is his best surface so I think he will do it."

The draw made Thursday also threw up a likely semifinal clash between Murray and Federer. The Swiss begins his campaign against home opposition in the shape of Donald Young.

Defending champion and second seed Djokovic starts against Italy's Paolo Lorenzi.

The women's 2011 winner Sam Stosur was drawn against Croatia's Petra Martic, with top seed Victoria Azarenka playing world No. 74 Alexandra Panova.

Wimbledon and Olympic champion Serena Williams, in the same half of the draw as Azarenka, is in an all-American duel with Coco Vandeweghe. Serena's elder sister Venus is also paired with an American.

The seven-time major winner plays Bethanie Mattek-Sands on her return to the tournament where she was diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome 12 months ago.

Three-time champion Kim Clijsters, appearing in her final grand slam before retiring from the sport, faces Olympic mixed doubles silver medalist Laura Robson of Britain.

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