Rusedski: Murray has perfect chance
The state of flux in men's tennis could present Andy Murray with the perfect opportunity in 2012 to end Britain's 76-year wait for a men's Grand Slam champion, former British number one Greg Rusedski said.
With world number one Novak Djokovic under pressure to defend over 13,000 ranking points following his stupendous 2011 season, Rafa Nadal still reeling from six successive defeats by the Serb and Roger Federer on the wrong side of 30, the time is right for Murray to strike and become the first British male to lift a major since Fred Perry in 1936.
"Next year is going to be very important for Murray," Rusedski said ahead of the ATP World Tour Finals, where Murray has been drawn in the same group as Djokovic.
"This year he's had his best year at the grand slams, he got to the final in Australia (losing to Djokovic) and three semis in Paris, Wimbledon and the (US) Open. That shows he's getting consistent.
"Coming up 2012 will be a very important year for him because Federer is already 30 plus so he's in extra time.
"Djokovic cannot repeat the year (he's just had when he won 10 titles including three majors) and Rafa most likely will win the French Open but this year he's struggled from his high standards.
"So if you look at the opening for Murray, he's gotta win one in the next year or so if he's going to win a major."
Looking back at the records over the past 30 years, most multiple men's Grand Slam winners had won their first major by the time they were blowing out 23 candles on their birthday cakes.
With Murray due to celebrate his quarter century next May, such statistics are unlikely to favour a player who is the only one among the top four without a grand slam title though Rusedski was more optimistic.
"The stat that is good for Murray is that he got into the top 10 before 20 years of age and there is only one player ...who has never won a major getting into top 10 before the age of 20 and that was Marcelo Rios.
"The way he plays, he can beat 97 of the top 100 guys. But when it comes down to the final of a major and both guys are playing their best tennis, the one who is going to be a little bit more aggressive is going to come through.
"Murray has got the realisation of that after this year so he needs to put that practice into action."
While Murray has usually picked Flushing Meadows as the venue where he is most likely to triumph, Rusedski believes he has more chances of succeeding at the Australian Open as he might be able to catch the opposition napping just weeks into the new season.
"Andy always plays great in the Australian Open and has been in the final twice," said Rusedski.
"The guys aren't necessary sharp coming into that event so for me that's probably he's best chance at winning a major."