Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Like virtually every other tennis player of this era, Andy Murray may simply have been born at the wrong time.
The 24-year-old Scot shares an era with two of the greatest players in the history of tennis, and a third who is in the midst of one of the single greatest seasons ever.
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have won 22 of the last 26 Grand Slam singles tournaments, and Novak Djokovic has won three of the other four, including two during a year in which he’s compiled a 57-2 record.
During that time, Murray is 0-3 in major finals and has not won a single set. Djokovic smoked Murray in straight sets to win the Australian Open in January.
“Right now I know that…the level of tennis at the top of the game is very, very high,” Murray, the No. 4 seed at the U.S. Open, said Saturday. “You know, the year Djokovic has had this year, probably won’t see something like that for quite a long time. No matter what happens between now and the end of the year, the first six months, six seven months were incredible.
“The level that Roger and Rafa set, you know, the previous years is being equally as impressive.”
Still, four-time U.S. Open champion John McEnroe believes that Murray can break through and capture his first Grand Slam singles title over the next fortnight.
“The hungriest man in the draw should be Murray,” McEnroe said during the draw ceremony. “I think this is his best shot to win one.”
Murray says he is confident he can win in Queens.
He is coming off a victory in Cincinnati a week ago in which Djokovic retired in the final because of right shoulder trouble with Murray leading 6-4, 3-0.
“I have a chance of winning for sure,” said Murray, who lost to Federer in the 2008 Open final and could potentially meet Nadal in this year’s semifinals. “Whether it’s my best chance or not, no one has a clue like that. And someone like John who has played hundreds and hundreds and thousands of matches probably knows that one bad day and you can put yourself out of the tournament.”
Still, Murray believes he’s lessened his odds of having a bad day by making changes to his diet that have improve his physical conditioning.
He cut out cow’s mix in favor of soy milk. He also eats more fish and vegetables, and less pasta and steak.
“Now I know how I feel, I wish I had been doing it longer,” he said. “I wake up at seven in the morning now and feel great. Before I would wake up at like nine-thirty and feel terrible – stiff, sore and tired – and now I just feel much fresher and feel good.”
Murray, who is from the small town of Dunblane, Scotland, also says he likes the charged atmosphere in New York City and on center court in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“I’ve always liked busy places,” Murray said.
“And also the center court I think is just incredible atmosphere. It’s so different to anything on the tennis calendar, and I really like playing here.”
Now he just has to take the next step and win in the Big Apple.
**MONDAY’S TOP MATCHESMen:Ryan Harrison vs Maran Cilic (27): The young American hopeful will be tested early on against the Croation Sensation, once ranked as high as No. 9.
Nikolay Davydenko vs Ivan Dodig: Davydenko was a Top 5 player during most of the 2000’s and Dodig just beat Nadal. Should be a good one.
Jack Sock vs Marc Gicquel: After Ryan Harrison, Jack Sock is the next great U.S. hope. Although he’s not as polished as Harrison, he has some weapons
Women:Shahar Peer(23) vs Sania Mirza: Here are two ex-top 20 players who should provide some great shotmaking.
Christina McHale vs Aleksandra Wozniak: McHale is this year’s Melanie Oudin, and with her win two weeks ago over top-ranked Caroline Wozniaki, she has gotten some attention.
Venus Williams vs Vesna Dolonts: Venus enters the tournament unseeded after battling injuries and a virus that limited her play in 2011. Can she make a run and shake up the draw?
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.