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Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Reason No. 4 to watch the U.S. Open

Editor's note: On Aug. 17, Ravi Ubha began unveiling the top 10 reasons to watch the 2009 U.S. Open. Check back each weekday until Aug. 28 as we count down to No. 1.

No. 4: Murray's quest

Those pesky drug testers.

Here Andy Murray was, trying to sleep in at his New York hotel, and they show up at 7:15 a.m.

"Can't imagine a more relaxing way to start the day than having someone watching you go to the toilet," Murray lamented on his Web site on Monday.

Things got better. Murray hit a few baseballs, golf balls and went bowling on a rare day off. A huge boxing fan, he stayed away from the ring.

Sounds relaxing, and the 22-year-old needs to be. No matter what he says (that he'll start playing his best tennis at 23, for instance), the pressure is on. Murray surrounded himself with people he likes, worked exhaustively on his fitness and rose to No. 2 in the rankings, thanks in part to Rafa's knees, so it's time to deliver the knockout punch and land a maiden major. He'd get ample headlines back home in the UK, though far less than what a Wimbledon title would bring.

But can he do it?

Murray enters New York on a minor low, losing for the first time in his past five against substantial U.S. Open favorite Roger Federer. The straight-sets fall in Cincinnati last week wasn't as close as it seemed, despite a 7-6 (8) outcome in the second -- Federer didn't face a break point and won almost 90 percent of his points off his first serve, an astounding figure given the Scot's usually brilliant return game.

The Swiss subsequently took a swipe at the defensive Murray, and not for the first time, declaring, "I was always looking to make the plays, and I think in the end I deserved to win just because I wasn't scared to go after my shots."

That's the problem for Murray, a genuine guy. On the biggest of stages, he's been mowed down by more aggressive peers. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga got him at last year's Australian Open, Federer toppled Murray in the 2008 U.S. Open final, and Fernando Verdasco bombarded Murray with booming forehands in Melbourne's fourth round in January. In the French Open quarterfinals, Chilean Fernando Gonzalez did the damage, and Andy Roddick dictated proceedings in the Wimbledon semis in July. If Juan Martin del Potro matched Murray's fitness, he'd have beaten him at this month's Montreal Masters, too.

The British Grand Slam drought, among the men that is, stands at 73 years.

It's likely to get to 74.