Murray confident for US Open after beating big two in one week

Victories over Nadal and Federer suggest the Scot has returned to peak form with perfect timing
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The Independent Online

Andy Murray described his victory at the Toronto Masters, topped by a win in Sunday night's final against Roger Federer, as one of the best weeks of his life. In beating Federer and Rafael Nadal in the same tournament for the first time in his career and winning his first title for nine months, Murray not only kept his world No 4 ranking but underlined his belief that he has it in him to climb the highest peaks.

Parting company last month with Miles Maclagan, who had been the central figure in Murray's coaching team for the last two and a half years, was one of the toughest decisions he has had to make on a personal level. Murray, however, has never shied away from the need to make such choices. But whoever replaces Maclagan, and the decision is not imminent, it is clear that he will want to keep his support group largely intact. Jez Green, one of Murray's physical trainers, and Andy Ireland, his physiotherapist, were joined in Toronto by Daniel Vallverdu, a close friend and his occasional hitting partner from his days at the Sanchez-Casal Academy. Nevertheless, there can be little doubt that the most important figure in Murray's corner in Canada was his mother.

While Judy rarely misses a Grand Slam she does not travel to many other events during the year. However, just as she did when Murray's relationship with Brad Gilbert, his previous coach, was coming apart at the seams, she has again been on hand to offer support and advice.

Thirteen days ahead of the US Open, the way in which Murray defended his title in Toronto will have reinforced some points in his mind. While he has always been a superb counter-puncher, Murray is at his best when he brings variety to his game, mixing defence with attack, spin with power and subtlety with brute force.

That combination brought rich reward in Toronto. Murray beat Federer 7-5, 7-5 in the final, his third successive straight-sets victory following his wins over David Nalbandian, who had been on an 11-match winning run, and Nadal.

"It's good for the confidence for the next few weeks," Murray said. "Winning a tournament is always great, but this is the first time I've beaten Roger and Rafa in the same tournament, which is probably the most pleasing thing, and I didn't drop a set against either of them. I'm playing a bit freer. I was going for my shots more today. I've felt pretty calm on the court all week. If you can put your emotions and how you're feeling into the way you're playing rather than showing it after every point – then I felt it worked well. It was one of the best weeks I've had. I played pretty free-flowing tennis and didn't get too nervous."

It was Murray's seventh win in 12 matches against Federer, although it also ended a run of three successive defeats against the Swiss. The most recent of those was in this year's Australian Open final, a setback that seemed to affect Murray in one way or another for the next six months. Meanwhile his semi-final victory over Nadal provided a measure of revenge for his defeat to the world No 1 at the same stage at Wimbledon last month.

While the wins can only do good for the Scot's morale, he will also appreciate the need to keep them in perspective. Toronto was the first tournament back for Federer and Nadal since Wimbledon, while Murray already had one hard-court tournament under his belt this summer, having reached the final in Los Angeles earlier this month. Victory in Toronto will not mean too much if Murray does not build on it in New York.

"It's a very, very difficult thing to do [win a Grand Slam] just now because the players that are around, Roger and Rafa, are two of the best rivals ever," added Murray. "I don't think that will be in question by the end of both of their careers. But it's also something that is exciting and challenging, and that's why if you can do it, it makes it a much, much greater achievement. So hopefully I can give myself a good shot at the US Open.

"If I can get a little bit fitter and stronger in the next couple of weeks, play like I have in the last few matches – I'm not doing as much running as I normally would on the court and I've been dictating a lot more of the points – then I'll definitely give myself a chance. The surface in New York is my favourite one, so I definitely have a shot, but I need to play great."

Before heading for the Big Apple Murray competes in this week's Cincinnati Masters. After a first-round bye he will play his first match tomorrow against Jérémy Chardy or Florian Mayer.

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