Andy Murray loves the US Open. He won the junior title in 2004 and reached his first Grand Slam final here four years later. He relishes the fast conditions, copes well with the heat and enjoys life away from the courts in Manhattan.
So how come the year's final Grand Slam tournament – which starts tomorrow, Hurricane Irene permitting – has also provided two of Murray's biggest disappointments? Two years ago he lost in the fourth round to Marin Cilic, while his third-round exit last year to Stanislas Wawrinka, when the Scot has rarely looked more unhappy on court, was the only occasion since the 2008 French Open when he has failed to reach the second week of a Grand Slam tournament.
Murray believes that in the last two years he may have pushed himself too hard in his summer training camp. On both occasions he came out all guns blazing to win Masters Series titles in Canada but ran out of steam at the US Open. He hopes it will be different this year, having started the American hard-court season slowly before winning the Cincinnati Masters in his final appearance before New York.
"Last year I felt like I'd peaked too soon and felt just a bit flat and low on energy," Murray said. "I'm not expecting to feel perfect every Grand Slam or perfect every day, but you don't want to go in tired or fatigued in any way. You should be as fresh as possible going into the Slams because the two weeks is pretty tiring mentally."
Murray also concedes that disappointments earlier in the year may have caught up with him on his last two visits to Flushing Meadows. He sets himself high targets – winning Grand Slam titles and becoming world No 1 – and has come close to achieving both. He was briefly world No 2 and arrived here in each of the last two years having lost in the semi-finals at Wimbledon. Last year he also lost in the Australian Open final to Roger Federer.
However, Murray now wants always to look forward, changing his goals every week. "Now that I've won Cincinnati, for example, I'm thinking that if I can match [Novak] Djokovic's results, or Rafa's, or Federer's, from that week through to Cincinnati next year then that would get me to No 1. So rather than thinking about it from January to November, I'm thinking: 'OK, try and build on it next week'."
Murray believes the key to success here is "just finding ways to win". He explained: "When I was playing my most consistent tennis, that's what I was doing, just finding a way to get through it.
"Then obviously, if you can get yourself to the later stages that's when you need to play your best. That's what theplan is, so I need to try to stick to it."
Having spent time in Cincinnati with Darren Cahill, the Australian coach who has helped him on an occasional basis this year, Murray will work here with Sven Groeneveld, another of the Adidas coaching team, and Dani Vallverdu, the Scot's fellow graduate from the Sanchez-Casal Academy, who is now a regular member of his entourage.
Vallverdu used to play college tennis against Somdev Devvarman, Murray's first opponent. "Dani knows him well," Murray said. "He's very solid and has all the shots without having any huge weapons. He's like a lot of the college players. He has a really great attitude, fights hard, moves well, competes and finds ways to win."
There will be four Britons in the women's singles after Laura Robson joined Elena Baltacha, Anne Keothavong and Heather Watson via the qualifying tournament. Robson, 17, did so by winning two matches on Friday, recovering from 2-5 down in the final set to overcome Taylor Townsend, of the US, and then beating Hong Kong's Ling Zhang. Robson will meet Japan's Ayumi Morita, the world No 46.
Ireland's Conor Niland and Louk Sorensen also qualified. Niland's reward is a first-round meeting with Djokovic, the world No 1, while Sorensen will play Robin Soderling.Reuse content