ANDY Murray could be world number one later this year, experts have predicted, as they praised his successful battle to reach another Grand Slam final.
• Murray beat Federer 6-4, 6-7, 6-3, 6-7, 6-2
• Scot will face defending champion Novak Djokovic on Sunday
• US Open champion Murray through to his sixth Grand Slam final
The 25-year-old was lauded by some of the top names in tennis after securing a landmark win over Roger Federer – his first Grand Slam victory over the Swiss – in the semi-final of the Australian Open.
Ahead of tomorrow’s showdown with Novak Djokovic – a repeat of last year’s US Open final, which Murray won – commentators said the time had come for the Scot to show he was as good as his closest rivals.
David Marshall, chief executive of Tennis Scotland, said: “If Andy wins on Sunday, then the number-one ranking could become a reality in the months to come.
“After what he’s achieved, I don’t think it would be a major shock if he reaches number one. He’s got the game, he’s got the ability and he’s shown he’s got the character as well.”
Mr Marshall said Murray had played a virtually perfect final set against the world number- two yesterday, describing his performance as “nerve jangling, fantastic and gritty”.
He said: “I think he also showed that, having won the Grand Slam last year, there’s not the same pressure on him and it showed in his tennis.
“It promises to be a great match on Sunday morning. It’s a difficult one to call but, obviously from a Scottish perspective, Andy’s got a great record in Australia and this is his chance to go one better and get his second Grand Slam under his belt.”
Eight-times Grand Slam champion Andre Agassi said he believed Murray had shown he was capable of competing on the same level as his three closest
rivals – Djokovic, Federer and Rafa Nadal.
He said: “It’s a remarkable era. Murray is doing this now in a time that’s incredible, and yet you wonder, can he really establish himself as one of those guys? The answer is, yeah, he can.
“He’s coming into his own now. He believes now.”
A range of stars heaped praise on the Dunblane-born British number-one and wished him luck for tomorrow’s final.
Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: “Congratulations Andy Murray on reaching yet another Grand Slam final. Best of luck – we will all be cheering you on.”
First Minister Alex Salmond said: “I’m quite certain I will not be the only Scot glued to the television to see Andy in the final on Sunday. The whole country will be behind him and willing him on to take his second Grand Slam title.”
Actor Kevin Spacey, a regular visitor to Wimbledon, tweeted: “Congrats @Andy_Murray for his win! Can’t wait for Sunday night – Flew to Melbourne to watch. Awesome game!”
Locals in Murray’s home town had already started putting up saltires and posters wishing the tennis ace good luck.
Moira Cook, owner of Dunblane’s Sheriffmuir Inn, said: “It’s absolutely marvellous and we’re behind him all the way.
“He’s that good, we have to believe. He’s got a new lease of life. It’s marvellous. Of course he’s going to win.”
Stirling Council tweeted its support for Murray. It said: “A great result today for Andy Murray Down Under. Andy, everyone across Stirling will be wishing you the best in the final.”
Murray admitted he had
matured as a player and believed he had the right set of skills – mentally and physically – to win another Grand Slam.
He said winning the US Open had given him the confidence to beat Federer. “I don’t think loads has changed in my game, I just think understanding what I need to do in the important
moments,” he said.
Of tomorrow’s final, he said: “I’m sure if I get myself into the position to win, I’m sure it will maybe be easier to win than the US Open or Wimbledon last year.”