The 2009 ATP season is just days away, and Andy Murray knows the huge significance that the year ahead holds for him.
2008 will doubtlessly be a year for the 21-year-old to remember, a season where the Scot finally broke into the top 5 in the world rankings, won five titles, and reached the final of a Grand Slam in New York.
But in 2009 he must be even more successful, he must build on the positives from last year and he must mentally believe that he can break into the formidable top 3 that has developed of Nadal, Federer and Djorkovic. He must show that he is able to compete with the players above him on a consistent basis.
And the year has begun well for him. On Thursday morning he brushed James Blake aside 6-2 6-2 in the opening match at an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi. A win which has set him up a semi-final clash with world number two Roger Federer today.
The ease of the victory seemed to surprise Murray himself as he spoke to the media after the match: “I played much better than I expected to. This is the first match of 2009 and I am delighted with how I played. It’s great preparation for the Australian Open, all the top players are here.”
The first Grand Slam of the year starts on the 19th of January with the Australian Open in Melbourne, and Murray will be looking to hit the ground running and get further than he did last year – where he fell at the first hurdle in round one.
In fact, he has never got past the fourth round in Melbourne, so there is plenty of room for improvement.
And Murray’s recent success on the court has attracted further attention as news emerged of his signing with management company, 19 Entertainment – the same company that has managed David Beckham and the Spice Girls. On the deal he said:
“This is a fantastic opportunity. We now have an unbeatable combination of representatives with world-class stature and experience.”
So now let’s hope that Britain’s number one can step it up a notch and bring home a Grand Slam title in 2009.
Somehow it now seems more a matter of ‘when’ than ‘if’.
MORE: The latest football news
MORE: The latest tennis news
BIOGRAPHY: Victor Moses
BIOGRAPHY: Luke Shaw