Three former Grand Slam champions weigh in as to whether Andy Murray can become the world No. 1. Murray has won two of the last four Grand Slam titles, beating top-ranked Novak Djokovic in both the 2012 U.S. Open and 2013 Wimbledon finals. However, the second-ranked Scot lost to Djokovic in the Australian Open final last January.
"I think Murray is on his way to doing great things,” said Pete Sampras, who along with Jim Courier and John McEnroe is playing exhibition matches at the Rogers Cup in Toronto. “I think he's got a great shot at the U.S. Open. He's progressed into this great talent that mentally is very strong, has a great coach in Ivan [Lendl] who has helped him a lot. He's well on his way to winning many majors. It would be interesting to see how he sort of defends [the U.S. Open]."
Murray trails Djokovic by 3,420 ranking points. Murray played poorly during the clay-court season and missed Roland Garros with an injury. The second-seeded Murray lost to Ernests Gulbis in the round of 16 in Montreal.
"I think he's scratching his head a little bit at how the rankings system works," Courier said of Murray. "But consistency clearly matters. Taking a loss here with a thousand points on the line, those are the kinds of matches that make it harder to get over the line. Novak is not going to give it up without a fight, but no question he has the game. Consistency is what it takes."
Former French Open champion Courier said Murray must improve his clay results to surpass Djokovic.
"One thing that is a huge advantage for Novak is he can dominate the clay-court season absent Rafa. He's the second-best clay courter out there. Murray is not quite there. So there is a point gap in that area of the season that's going to be tough for Andy to overcome unless he picks his game up on clay, which is doable, but Novak has a big advantage there."
McEnroe said that the return of Rafael Nadal to hard courts might be a factor in how far Murray progresses too. Nadal owns a 13-5 record against Murray.
“I'm thrilled that [Nadal is] back,” McEnroe said. "There was definitely concern to see what happened at Wimbledon. We can all lose, but just the way it seemed that he wasn't sort of feeling right. Hopefully he can last for a couple of more years at this level, because that would be a great test for Andy. And clearly it would be a difficult one, because his career record with all the top guys is quite good.
"Murray has obviously made huge headway since when he started with the Olympics. To me, Djokovic, when he's playing his A game and Murray is playing his A game, I think that Novak still has got a little bit on him."