After the most successful year of his career to date, following a Wimbledon final appearance with a US Open title and Olympic gold, much is expected of Britain’s Andy Murray heading into 2013.
Murray finally showed that he had the extra grit and belief to beat Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in Grand Slams, two of the three men who had been the main thorns in his side during a previously frustrating tennis career.
Murray’s maiden Grand Slam title in Flushing Meadows came at the fifth attempt, having been runner-up in the 2008 US Open, 2010 and 2011 Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2012.
The confidence his successful summer has instilled in himself and his loyal fans has raised expectations of more major success for the man who became the first British male to win since Fred Perry in 1936.
This belief is why he’s the current 3/1 favourite in the betting for the 2013 Sports Personality of the Year award, where he took third place behind Bradley Wiggins and Jessica Ennis this year.
And his chances of early success in 2013 have been given a considerable boost following the news that Rafael Nadal will not be competing in the first Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open in January.
The Spaniard had widely been expected to return following six months out with a knee injury, but a stomach virus has delayed his comeback.
Although a newly-spirited and confident Murray may not see it that way, this certainly improves the Scot’s chances of taking home a trophy that has twice eluded him.
While Murray has proven that he has finally beaten the “hex” held over him for years by Djokovic and Federer, he is yet to do so with Nadal, who has beaten him in their last four head-to-heads at major tournaments.
Nadal defeated Murray in four sets at the US Open in 2011, as at Wimbledon earlier in the same year, in straights sets at the French Open before that, and also without reply at Wimbledon in 2010.
It’s undoubtedly a record Murray would like to improve on in due time, but he surely won’t be too disappointed not to get the chance this time round.
Instead he’ll once again have the unenviable task of deposing the current Australian Open champion and 6/5 tournament favourite Novak Djokovic, with the Serb continuing in fine form with a season-opening tournament victory in Abu Dhabi.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.