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Andy Murray Faces Golden Opportunity at 2012 U.S. Open

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As Andy Murray prepares for his eighth U.S. Open, it would be accurate to say his career has been mired in a combination of excellent tennis and impeccably poor timing. At 25 years old, he is already one of the most accomplished British tennis players of all time, something that started in 2005 when he became the youngest Brit to ever play in the Davis Cup. Murray owns 22 career ATP singles titles and most recently won a gold medal at Wimbledon. But, as we know, elite tennis players are primarily judged by one thing: Grand Slams. Murray has yet to win a slam, despite reaching four separate title matches.

The issue for him has never been about his own talent, but rather the talent that surrounds him. His era features Roger Federer, perhaps the greatest ever with 17 total slams and nearly 300 weeks ranked No. 1, along with Rafael Nadal, arguably in the top five of all time, and last year's breakout star, Novak Djokovic, who at one point won 43 consecutive matches. The problem for Murray is that he's consistently been very good, but rarely great. Capturing gold at the Olympics was a wonderful moment, but a singular one as well.

The 2012 U.S. Open, which begins Aug. 27 in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., is his opportunity to finally assert himself alongside the Big 3. He just beat Federer in the Olympics, Nadal was forced to withdraw because of an injury, and Djokovic has thus far been unable to capture the magic he had last year. Murray has all of the tools to win this tournament. Let us remember that he has a 9-8 record against Federer and defeated the Djoker in straight sets during the London Games. Both are the two favorites ahead of Murray as of now, according to Bovada Sportsbook.

If all else fails, mom's usually know best. Murray's mother, Judy, is captain of the GB women's Fed Cup team and believes that London's victory was vital for her son's mindset moving forward.

"He will certainly go into Grand Slams with that belief that he can get over the final hurdle having done it once," she told BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour.

"I think a big burden has probably been lifted off him after getting the gold medal at the Olympics to prove to people that he could get through a big final."

Handling such pressure is often the crucial ingredient that separates good athletes from great ones. It's why sports fans revered Michael Jordan. In other words, how you handle clutch moments can literally define an entire career. Seven years into his wildly scrutinized career, Andy Murray -- ranked fourth in the world -- will once again come under the microscope during the U.S. Open.

His big moment has never seemed so real.

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