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by Mark Hodgson
Andy Murray lost again in a Grand Slam at last month's Australian Open and you couldn’t be blamed for thinking that he is destined never to win a major title – as most of the people I have spoken to think. But is this necessarily true? From what I gather people don’t seem to think Murray will ever win a Grand Slam. However, it’s probably not that clear cut.
Undoubtedly, the defeat to Novak Djokovic had a feeling of "the same old story." But if you look past the disappointment, there were some positives. One which stands out is the fact that he actually led the match 2 sets to 1, which has never happened in any other of his defeats to the top three in Grand Slams. He was by no means outplayed in the match, and at the end of the third set looked like he might have the momentum to go on to win the match. In the past – when losing in majors to the top three – the most sets Murray has ever been able to win is one.
There are also long term signs of improvement from the Scot. If you look back at his Grand Slam record, it is clear that he is progressing still. In 2008, he reached the final of a Grand Slam for the first time at the US Open and, the following year, got to the semifinals of Wimbledon. He made the final of the Australian Open and the semifinals of Wimbledon in 2010. Then, in 2011, he reached at least the last four of every Grand Slam, making it to the final of the Australian Open (which is no mean feat whoever you are). So, although it may appear like Murray isn’t getting any closer to winning a Grand Slam, he has actually been improving year on year. There’s nothing to say he can’t keep on improving and eventually win a major.
The edition of Ivan Lendl, who won eight Grand Slams in his career, seems to have produced a slight change in mentality from the Scot. Murray has admitted himself that Lendl doesn’t hold back his opinions of the 24-year old's performances. It seems to have had an effect, with Murray only dropping one set before losing to Djokovic in Melbourne. This has been something plaguing him in the past as well - taking too long to beat opponents in the earlier rounds and leading to tiredness in the latter stages of tournaments. Maybe this is something set to change under the guidance of Lendl.
There’s no doubt that it’s going to be a tough task for Murray to win a Grand Slam; he will need some luck along the way to do it. But it is by no means unthinkable. The problem has always been psychological for Murray. He has shown throughout his career that he has the ability to beat the top three in various different tournaments – having won 17 matches total against the top three. So if he can overcome the mental barrier, surely he can become the first British male to win a major title in more than 70 years.
Mark Hodgson is a Sports Journalism student at the University of Sunderland and reads news on Spark fm. He's a big Middlesbrough FC fan and enjoys writing, especially about sport, on his blog, mrmarkhodgson. You can follow him on Twitter @mrmarkhodgson.
[Photo(s) credit: William West/AFP/Getty Images]