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Page last updated at 22:00 GMT, Thursday, 27 August 2009 23:00 UK

Murray's mission

US OPEN
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Date: 31 August - 13 September
BBC coverage: Live text commentaries on the website from 1600 BST each day, regular updates on 5 live, full commentary on 5 live sports extra in week two, both finals on 5 live, tennis special on 5 live, 3 September, 2000-2100 BST


Andy Murray on top of the O2 Arena
Murray has already qualified for the end-of-season finale at the O2 Arena

Britain's Andy Murray heads to the US Open as the world number two, second seed and winner of five titles in 2009.

The 22-year-old is fancied by many to win his first Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows, but the form of Roger Federer makes the Swiss the favourite to land a sixth straight US Open title.

Mark Petchey, Murray's former coach, looks at the Scot's chances in New York and the men who are likely to stand in his way.

ANDY MURRAY

"There aren't too many weaknesses in Andy's game - you can't have the results he's had if you have any holes in your game. It's going to take the best in the world to beat him, or someone playing incredibly well on a certain day to take care of him. It's obviously made him a contender for the major titles.

"I think he's now got the experience of being in the latter stages of tournaments, not getting too tense and being able to go out and play his own game and not feel any sort of pressure from outside. He's got enough pressure he puts on himself.

Andy Murray
Murray is hoping to go one step further than last year's runner-up finish

"The biggest improvement over the last 12 months has been his fitness because he's able to reproduce the whole time, each point the same, and he can wear people down. In the past maybe that wasn't the case every single match he played.

"One of the by-products of all the work he has done is the extra strength in his legs, which has really helped his serve. I think he stays up through the serve better and his first serve has become a pretty formidable shot in the game.

"Perhaps he could incorporate a bit more serve and volleying, because he's one of the best volleyers out there and it would just keep opponents off balance. And perhaps against the very best his second serve has room to improve, but if you look at his stats on second serve he's one of the best behind it.

"Is he too passive sometimes? There are two schools of thought and the one people need to be a bit careful of is that if you try to make him something that he's not, you make him less effective as a player.

"Andy is hugely successful playing a certain way and if you're going to change it totally and he's suddenly a five/six-shot per rally player, and then go for a winner, he's going to make a whole host of unforced errors, in which case he's probably not going to get through to the second week of a major.

Mark Petchey and Andy Murray
Petchey worked as Murray's coach in 2005 and 2006

"I do feel there's a little bit too much talk about how he isn't consistently aggressive enough. That for me would make him ineffective. Having been around him, he does have a lot of depth to his game that hasn't been explored yet, but he's still so young.

"This is his 15th major he's going into and Roger only won his first major in his 17th. Some people have lost a little focus about where he is in his tennis development.

"It's very difficult for a player that's already been this successful playing this way to suddenly have people saying 'that's never going to get it done'.

"I believe, as he's already shown with his dedication and devotion to his training, that if there is a need to become consistently more proactive, he'll do it."

THE CHAMPION

"Roger Federer in Cincinnati last week set the benchmark, he threw down the gauntlet to everyone and said 'that's how you play tennis, if you want to try and match me over five sets then you're going to have to come with a lot of game'.

"It was very impressive, especially given that he's just had an incredible moment in his personal life, and he's the favourite going in.

606: DEBATE

"Cincinnati was big for him because he hasn't had to beat the top guys to win the French Open or Wimbledon, so to beat Murray and Djokovic has got to give him the satisfaction that he can get it done again."

THE CONTENDERS

"Rafael Nadal started to show signs of life in Cincinnati, I thought he played superbly against Berdych and the timing was back. That's always the difficult thing after a long lay-off - you can practise and practise but getting your timing in matches and coming up with those incredible passing shots just takes a bit of time. I think he'll be there or thereabouts in the second week.

"Novak Djokovic obviously played well in Cincinnati and has put himself in the mix, and I'd like to see him there in finals weekend because in some ways he's become the forgotten man. But if you look at his results he's been good again this year, if slightly disappointing in the majors, and he could finish on a high.

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal
Djokovic beat Nadal on his way to the Cincinnati final last week

"The one intangible is his change of racquet, and only he can say whether it feels different and has affected his shot selection, but he looked very comfortable against Nadal last week.

"Andy Roddick is back as a contender and has the American public behind him. Once he gets through the opening rounds I like his chances, although the first matches he's always a bit edgy. I think he has a genuine chance of winning it this year but it's tough.

"In previous times you thought maybe there was one standout player to get through and then you have a real chance but now, even if you get past Federer, you've got Nadal or Murray or Djokovic waiting.

"For Juan Martin del Potro, I think fitness is the big thing and it's not something that will be quite as easily solved as Andy's. He's a big guy and has to carry a fair bit of weight around the court just from his height.

"What's been really impressive though is the improvement in his serve, which has been massive, and also his volleying, which indicates there is someone willing to do what he needs to become the best. When it comes together, he's a player. I would think he's still 12 months away from playing as consistently as he can. The off-season is big for him this year."


Mark Petchey was talking to Piers Newbery ahead of the ATP World Tour Finals, which take place at London's O2 Arena from 22-29 November



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see also
Murray to face Gulbis at US Open
27 Aug 09 |  Tennis
Federer secures Cincinnati title
23 Aug 09 |  Tennis
Murray splits from coach Petchey
14 Apr 06 |  Tennis
Del Potro takes Tour Finals place
15 Sep 09 |  Tennis


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