Andy Murray will begin the defence of his US Open title on Wednesday after the Brit, who won his maiden Grand Slam in New York last year, was drawn in the top half of the draw along with world number one Novak Djokovic.
Twelve months ago Murray faced continuous questions if he would ever win a Grand Slam, but now that he’s attained two of tennis’ four major championships, is the pressure to defend them even greater?
Despite last year’s success and his triumph at Wimbledon, Murray goes into the tournament at Flushing Meadows seeded third behind Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
World number one Djokovic will be determined to prove his superior status, the Serb hasn’t won a Slam since the Australian Open in January, missing out at the French Open and Wimbledon.
On the other hand Nadal’s comeback from a knee injury, which kept him out of action for the majority of last year, has been quite staggering. The Spaniard has won nine of the twelve tournaments he has played this year including the French Open and five Masters 1000 events.
However, Nadal hasn’t played a five set match for over a year and, as was shown at Wimbledon, his lingering knee issues remain a concern.
So could being ranked lower than his two main rivals ease some of the inevitable pressure loaded onto Murray every year by the media and public? Or will the burden of defending his title increase expectation?
Murray’s first round opponent comes in the shape of French veteran Michael Llodra who he has beaten in all three of their previous meetings.
However the Brit’s path to another final in the Big Apple is anything but easy, Murray could face fifth seed Tomas Berdych in the quarter finals, a man he lost to in Cincinnati a week ago, before a potential semi final match up with Djokovic.
On the other side of the draw Roger Federer is seeded seventh, the first time he has been seeded outside the top four at a major since 2003, and the Swiss will be hoping to reinvigorate his illustrious career by reaching, at least, the last eight.
Other players to look out for include big servers Milos Raonic, Jerzy Janowicz and home favourite John Isner, while David Ferrer and Juan Martin Del Potro will also hope to challenge deep into the second week.
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