EXCLUSIVE: Former British No 1 backs Andy Murray to make a splash at the US Open

Andy Murray looking strong at Shanghai Masters

Former British No 1 Annabel Croft believes Andy Murray could be a dark horse to make a big impact at next month’s US Open, as the 2012 champion eyes up a return to Grand Slam singles action for the first time since January 2019.

Speaking exclusively to Tennis365, BBC Sport analyst Croft suggests Murray showed flashes of inspiration in the Battle Of The Brits event last month to fuel hope that the two-time Wimbledon champion could be a threat at a venue that holds special memories for him, with the Scot winning his first Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows back in 2012.

While Murray lost to Dan Evans at the semi-final stage of the tournament that was staged at the LTA’s National Tennis Centre, Croft impressed by his performances against his domestic rivals.

“Some of the tennis that we saw from Andy in the Battle of the Brits events suggests he will be a player to watch at the US Open,” she told Tennis365.

“By his own admission, his level of play fluctuated and he struggled to maintain the level he would like, but the periods of good play we saw from him were exceptional. It was top 10 level tennis and we know what he is capable of despite all his injury worries.

“With his hunger and his motivation, he won’t just be entertaining the competition just to take part. He will be there to have a real go and while we don’t know how far he can get, I’m sure he will not be a player anyone would want to get in the draw.”

EXCLUSIVE: Former British No 1 insists US Open can be a big success despite the absence of fans

Croft went on to suggest defending US Open champion Rafael Nadal may have to consider missing the event in New York, if he opts to prioritise trying to win a 13th French Open title in an event that gets underway on September 20.

“There are just two weeks between the US Open and the French Open, so someone like Rafael Nadal will have a decision to make,” says Croft. “Does he go to America and play best of five-set matches that may have an impact on his hopes of performing well on his favoured surface?

“I would imagine most of the top players will try to play both events if they can, but the players who are likely to get to the back end of the US Open may not be at their best for the French Open as it comes along so quickly. That is a decision Rafa will have to consider, but I still believe the US Open can be a great event, even if some of the top players are not there.

“There will be so many great stories to tell in tennis over the next few months and that’s why I can’t wait for the tournament to get underway.”

Croft also backed Serena Williams to shine at the US Open, as she aims to claim an elusive 24th Grand Slam title that will see equal Margaret Court’s all-time record of wins in Grand Slam events.

“Serena has a real chance to win that 24th major to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record,” she added. “It is going to be really exciting to see what she can do and I’m sure she is eying up the title in New York.

“A lot of players will not have played too much tennis when this run of events starts, but someone like Serena is so brilliant that she can click into top gear very quickly.”

The BBC are screening an array of Wimbledon coverage over what should have been the two weeks of The Championships, with Sue Barker presenting a show live from the All England Club every night at 8pm on BBC2.

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