Heading into 2017, hopes were higher than ever for the current world No. 1 Andy Murray. He had a terrific year in 2016, winning Wimbledon and riding a hot streak all the way to the No. 1 ranking, but his past lackluster performances in major tournaments have kept most people’s expectations in check. After a round of sixteen loss in the Australian Open to Mischa Zverev people are as unsure about Murray as ever, so the question becomes where will 2017 take Andy Murray?
I was as excited as anyone when Murray had his breakthrough last year and took over the world No. 1 spot. However, I was also very skeptical of his ability to maintain it. Historically, the biggest thing that’s held back Andy Murray is Andy Murray, meaning his lack of confidence has been a big factor in his losses, even to players much worse than him (Mischa Zverev is a great example). We’ve been spoiled by watching arguably the three best tennis players of all time (Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic) duke it out and control the tennis world, and realistically Murray won’t be able to achieve anywhere near that level of dominance from the No. 1 spot. I think understanding that can help predict how Murray’s stint as world No. 1 will go, and just how important 2017 will be to his legacy.
Murray falling in the round of sixteen in his first major as the No. 1 is a prime example of why he won’t be much more successful at the No. 1 spot then he has in the past. Plain and simple, those types of losses didn’t happen to Djokovic, Nadal, or Federer when they were at the peaks of their time at No. 1, which is where Murray is supposed to be now. Given, it is just one loss and he still has a lofty lead in the rankings, but it’s hard for me to say he’ll be a great No. 1 based on his history and based off what he’s shown me in the last two majors he played.
Considering his lead in the rankings, it’s tough to say he’ll lose his spot soon, but I really do believe his next few big tournaments (Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, and the French Open) will make or break him if he’s going to regain that same level of confidence we saw from him at the end of last year. Lackluster performances like the one we saw from him in Australia will keep his time at No. 1 very short, but since the tennis world seems more open now than it’s been in the past fifteen years there’s a chance Murray can take advantage and win a major or two this year, and build on his legacy. It’s still very early in the season, but this year is a golden opportunity for Murray. For years there have really only been five or so relevant players in tennis, but it really has just been a big three since Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic have been far more successful than anyone else, 2017 is Murray’s greatest opportunity to change that and create a real case for a big four.