It may have been a jam-packed year already for Andy Murray but former British number one Tim Henman expects the 2012 US Open winner to rise to the challenge once again when action gets underway at Flushing Meadows on Monday.
So far in 2015, Murray has contested no fewer than 75 matches across both singles and doubles at ATP tournament level, of which he has lost just 14.
Among those matches have come clay court titles in Madrid and Munich, Queen’s Club success and most recently victory over world number one Novak Djokovic at the Rogers Cup.
He has also reached the final of the Australian Open this year as well as the semi-finals of both the French Open and Wimbledon, where he lost to Djokovic and Roger Federer respectively.
Those two players are the only two seeded above him for the last Grand Slam of the year in New York – two individuals Henman believes pose the biggest challenge for Murray over the next fortnight.
The Scot will of course still face tricky opponents before a possible semi-final clash with Federer – his opening round draw with outspoken and controversial Australian Nick Kyrgios a case in point.
But Henman is confident Murray has the both the talent and the energy reserves to launch a serious bid for a second US Open title.
“Andy’s chances are very good, this year I think he’s played as good a tennis as I’ve ever seen him play,” he said.
“He’s won at the US before. Hard court is a good surface for him.
“Djokovic is the player to beat, but I’d say Murray and Federer are the second favourites.
“He’s had a very busy schedule, since he got married actually, he missed Monte Carlo but then he was straight through the clay courts, he played probably the best clay court tennis of his career, he was straight through the French, Queen’s and then Wimbledon, straight into the Davis Cup and now the hard courts.
“I’m sure there will be a time, probably at the end of the year because of the Davis Cup in September and the World Tour Finals, where he will just have to manage it.”
If Murray’s schedule is busy now, it promises to get even more hectic in 2016 with the arrival of his first child with wife Kim in February.
He has already spoken of abandoning his winter training block in Miami so he can spend Christmas with his wife while the second month of the year will understandably be light of playing action.
But with married life already appearing to be suiting Murray on court, Henman is adamant the world number three will take fatherhood in his stride.
“It’s very exciting. As a dad of three, I know it’s an amazing time for them,” he added.
“There’s a lot of speculation as to how that impacts your career on top of how much has married life impacted his career. Obviously he’s played amazingly well since getting married.
“It’s a big change and I’m sure it’s another way of keeping things in perspective for Andy. I’m sure both Kim and Andy will adapt to a baby brilliantly.”
Of course Murray is not the only British representative in singles action at this year’s US Open.
In the men’s draw, Aljaz Bedene and James Ward have qualified automatically while Johanna Konta came through qualifying to join Laura Robson and Heather Watson in the women’s draw.
The latter will be aiming to build on her headline-grabbing Wimbledon performances where she took eventual champion Serena Williams to the brink in the third round.
Performances have been mixed since, losing early in Washington and Cincinnati, although a decent run at Toronto came in between.
But while refusing to place too much pressure on the world number 61’s shoulders too early, Henman believes Watson has the potential to challenge the world’s best on a regular basis.
“It’s important to keep the perspective there. She’s building her game. She played an unbelievable match against Serena but we shouldn’t jump too far ahead,” he added.
“We need to look at her sustaining herself in the big tournaments and trying to win rounds consistently and getting through to the quarter-finals of events.
“If she does that then that will build her confidence and then she can think about getting into the top 30 and perhaps top 20. She’s got a good opportunity to do that.”
© Sportsbeat 2015