Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have been the men in form over the last fortnight but two former Grand Slam champions are tipping Andy Murray to win the US Open, which begins in New York next week. Mats Wilander and Goran Ivanisevic both believe that the improvements Murray has made since appointing Ivan Lendl as his coach can help him to win his first Grand Slam title.
While Federer and Djokovic, the top two players in the world rankings, won this month's Masters Series tournaments in Cincinnati and Toronto respectively, Murray has also had a fine summer. Having reached his first Wimbledon final, where he lost to Federer, he reversed the result when the two met four weeks later in the Olympic final at the All England Club. In the absence of Rafael Nadal, who has withdrawn because of an ongoing knee problem, Federer, Djokovic and Murray are favourites in New York.
Wilander, who, like Ivanisevic, will be competing at the Statoil Masters Tennis at the Royal Albert Hall in December, said: "My prediction for the US Open is Andy Murray winning. I'm not saying that just because he won the Olympics. It's because I think that he's a different man. I think that Ivan Lendl has helped him tremendously.
"He's becoming better physically, he hits his forehand better, but the biggest difference is emotionally. He's more even-keeled, more positive, and there's not as much pressure for him at the US Open as at Wimbledon. The hard courts in New York are a little quicker than in Australia, which suit him.
"I do think Andy Murray is one-up against Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic after the Olympics. I think five-set matches, with the attitude he has now, are going to favour him and when he plays well with a good attitude he is at least as good a player as the other top three."
Ivanisevic also believes Murray will win. "I would really like to see him win it – he deserves it," the 2001 Wimbledon champion said. "He played a really great Olympics and this will give him extra motivation and confidence. I don't think it matters that Rafael Nadal has pulled out. I think Andy is ready, with or without him."
The three British women who will go into the main draw at Flushing Meadows by dint of their world rankings all lost in the first round of their final warm-up tournaments. Anne Keothavong was a break up in the final set but was beaten 6-1, 5-7, 7-6 by New Zealand's Marina Erakovic in Dallas, where Heather Watson went down 6-3, 6-4 to Belgium's Yanina Wickmayer. Laura Robson fell at the first hurdle at the New Haven Open, where she was beaten 6-3, 6-3 by France's Marion Bartoli.