Andy Murray will hope to show how far he has come in 18 months when he takes on Russia’s Alex Bogomolov in the first round of the US Open later today.
The Scot goes into the tournament sharing equalling billing with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic after beating both three weeks ago to claim the biggest title of his career and an Olympic gold medal.
Bogomolov does not provoke such good memories for Murray and his fans. In March last year, he suffered a straight-sets loss in Miami that left him questioning himself and his game.
Bogomolov was a qualifier then ranked 118th in the world and the defeat was Murray’s fourth in succession in a miserable run that began with an Australian Open final thrashing by Djokovic and also included a defeat by Donald Young.
The Scot failed even to win a set in any of those matches and, looking back now, he said: “I wasn’t in the best place then.
“I’d lost in the first round of Indian Wells as well so it wasn’t the best moment of my career but I got a chance to play him a couple of times after that last year and played well against him so it was good to reverse that result because it was a tough loss for me.”
That was the nadir, with Murray managing to turn things around during the clay-court season and, by the time he had reached semi-finals at the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open, it was forgotten.
He has taken another step forward this season under coach Ivan Lendl, with the high points a run to the final of Wimbledon and then that Olympic triumph, and many pundits believe New York will be the venue where he finally wins a grand slam.
Murray does not see himself as too different a player to the one who looked so lost in defeat by Bogomolov, now ranked 73rd and having switched allegiance from the US to Russia.
He said: “I have still had some up and down matches away from the grand slams the last few years.
“But when I have played in the grand slams I think I’ve played most of my best tennis or close to it, and I hope that will be the case again on Monday.”
Murray follows defending women’s champion Sam Stosur on to Arthur Ashe Stadium, with the Australian opening her campaign against Croatia’s Petra Martic.
The evening session on Flushing Meadows’ main court begins with three-time champion Kim Clijsters, who will retire after the tournament, against American Victoria Duval before Federer takes on Young.
World number one Victoria Azarenka and third seed Maria Sharapova are also in action along with British pair Heather Watson and Laura Robson.
Watson has a tough task against ninth seed and former French Open champion Li Na while 18-year-old Robson faces an even younger opponent in 17-year-old America qualifier Samantha Crawford.