Rejuvenated Nadal, Djokovic eye Murray's US crown
By Dave James ,AFPNEW YORK -- Once the hunter, now the hunted, Andy Murray is braced for an all-out assault on his U.S. Open title from rejuvenated Rafael Nadal and world number one Novak Djokovic.
August 22, 2013, 12:04 am TWN
Murray ended Britain's 76-year wait for a Grand Slam men's champion by triumphing in New York in 2012 and backed it up with his historic Wimbledon victory this year, the first by a British man since Fred Perry in 1936.
The Scot beat Djokovic to win the U.S. Open 12 months ago and repeated the dose against the Serb at the All England Club six weeks ago.
But it is Nadal, rather than Djokovic, who is tipped to win a second title in New York, to add to his 2010 victory, and clinch a 13th career major.
The 27-year-old Spaniard missed the 2012 tournament as he rested his troublesome knees, part of a seven-month injury lay-off which stretched from the second round at Wimbledon to Vina del Mar in Chile in February.
Since his return Nadal has racked up nine titles, including five Masters, and boasts a win-loss record of 53-3.
His only blip was a first round trauma at Wimbledon, his bitter-sweet relationship with grass courts rekindled far too quickly after the draining march to an eighth French Open just two weeks earlier.
Nadal's title in Cincinnati last weekend followed victory in Montreal — the last man to clinch that double was Andy Roddick in 2003 who also went on to claim the U.S. Open.
“It's a nice feeling to arrive to the U.S. Open with two victories in two very difficult tournaments,” said Nadal, never one to get too far ahead of himself.
“And it is nice to arrive there knowing that, if I am able to keep continuing, keep playing like this, hopefully, I have the chance to have a good result.”
Nadal has supplanted Murray as world number two since Cincinnati after finding himself relegated to five when he reappeared in Chile.
Murray's post-Wimbledon party has fallen flat in recent weeks with a third round loss to Ernests Gulbis in Montreal followed by a quarterfinal exit to Tomas Berdych in Cincinnati.
But Murray, 26, has been here before — 12 months ago, he arrived in New York having suffered third-round defeats in both Toronto and Cincinnati.