Men's Tennis (ATP)
Murray enjoying British rule

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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - I know it's been anything but a long list, but Andy Murray appears to be well on his way to becoming the best British player in the Open Era (since 1968). Sorry, Tim Henman.

Murray has already done something that Henman never accomplished during his solid (although less than spectacular) career, and that's reach a Grand Slam final, which the fiery Scot did in New York earlier this month.

The sweet-swingin' Murray may ultimately have fallen to 13-time major titlist Roger Federer in the finale in Flushing, but he managed to establish himself as one of the top-four players on the planet right now, behind only five-time major champion Rafael Nadal, the former world No. 1 Federer and Aussie Open titlist Novak Djokovic.

Murray is enjoying his best ATP season to date, having rattled off 43 match wins (43-14) and a trio of titles in 2008. He owns six titles overall since turning pro in 2005.

Andy Murray reached his first major final earlier this month and will play in his first-ever Tennis Masters Cup in November.
The 6-foot-3 Dunblane native has reached four finals this year (3-1) and has beaten the likes of top-five studs Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Nikolay Davydenko. He shocked Nadal in the U.S. Open semifinals over a two-day period; stunned the mighty Federer in an opening-rounder in Dubai; ousted Djokovic in back-to-back weeks with a victory in a quarterfinal at a Masters Series event in Toronto and win in a final at a Masters Series tourney in Cincinnati; and doused Davydenko in a semifinal at a season-opening event in Doha. Murray also cooled off a scalding hot Juan Martin del Potro in the quarters at the U.S. Open, with the surging Argentine riding a torrid 23-match winning streak at the time.

In addition to his run to the final at the Open, Murray did also manage to make a trip into the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, where he lost to Nadal, but also had rather disappointing showings at Roland Garros (third round) and the Aussie Open (first round).

Unlike Henman, Murray appears to have a real shot at becoming the first British Grand Slam event champ since the legendary Fred Perry way back in 1936. Henman never reached a Grand Slam final in 14 years on the tour, but he did manage four trips into the Wimbledon semis, which, of course, is still four more than Murray to this point. As a matter of fact, Murray has reached only one major semifinal, period, to this point in his still-blossoming career.

"Tiger" Tim never finished any higher than sixth in the year-end world rankings, but it would appear as though Murray could top that standing in the coming months, at only 21 years of age.

Uninteresting Note: Murray dons Fred Perry apparel on the tennis court.

The grooming-challenged Murray entered '08 as the 11th-ranked player on the planet, but a season full of solid results currently has him inside the top five for the first time in his career, and he's also qualified for his first- ever trip to the prestigious season-ending Tennis Masters Cup, which features only the top-eight players in the world.

The hot-headed Scotsman, who used to employ American Brad Gilbert as his coach, has reached at least the quarterfinals on eight occasions this year and has pocketed $2.335 million in prize money, pushing his career take to just over $4.12 million.

Murray has been mostly idle since losing to Federer in the Big Apple, but plans to return to action at the Madrid Masters in mid October. He did play a little Davis Cup last week, winning a pair of singles rubbers against Austria in a World Group playoff for the 3-2 losers from Great Britain.

On the personal front, Murray's mom is a former Scottish national coach and his older brother Jamie also plays on the ATP circuit and is the highest- ranked British doubles player.

Murray, who captured the U.S. Open juniors title back in 2004, grew up playing tennis and soccer and was offered to play with the Glasgow Rangers.

I'm guessing he made the right choice going with the racquets.

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Scott Riley

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