Sky Sports talks to Ross Hutchins about Olympic and US Open champion Andy Murray
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH. Last Updated: 13/11/12 3:39pm
Andy Murray will be fighting it out for the number one spot in world tennis next season, according to great friend and occasional doubles partner Ross Hutchins who has been delighted with the improvement of the Olympic champion.
Hutchins has been at the World Tour Finals in London and although Murray could not end his year with a win, 2012 has still been an extraordinary one by anyone's standards - but he believes it could be just the beginning.
After training with Murray for the last few years, Hutchins is well placed to notice the changes in the British number one at first-hand, which have led to his grand slam breakthrough at the US Open and of course that amazing Olympic gold medal win.
Hutchins says Ivan Lendl has made a difference and a more aggressive approach has taken Murray to that next step of winning a major title.
"Andy's had such a great year - doing so well at Wimbledon in making the final, only losing to Federer in a fantastic match and then at London 2012 bringing the gold and silver home he was fantastic," Hutchins told Sky Sports.
Murray and Hutchins in doubles action
"Of course he won the US Open as well, which was always his favourite major so it wasn't a surprise to see him win his first one in New York.
"I've seen it at first hand with Andy as I've trained with him the last five years in Florida, he does absolutely everything to get there and now he's trying to do a bit more to get to the number one spot which I think he will do over the next few years.
"I'm lucky that he's one of my best friends so we spend so much time together and get on really well and I've seen him grow in terms of stature and self-belief.
"He's walking around now thinking 'I've won a slam now, I'm the man to beat' and he deserves that, he's brought that on himself with his brilliant results and you can see people feel like that when they play against him.
"I think he's grown because of Ivan Lendl, I think his team is fantastic but Lendl has done a fantastic job - he's made him more aggressive, his temperament is slightly different this year as he's a bit calmer on court.
"His ball striking is so much bigger, he doesn't hit what players would call nothing balls anymore and rely on only his speed, now he dominates the court from the middle and it's made all the difference."
Roger Federer battled back to the number one spot during 2012 and also beat Murray in a superb Wimbledon final, but Hutchins firmly believes Murray will be battling it out with long-term rival Novak Djokovic for top spot next year.
"So much credit to Andy at four in the world to not rest there and to think if I improve this I'll go to three and win a slam and in the next couple of years I think he'll win more slams and go to number one or two in the world.
"I think it'll be between Andy and Djokovic over the next couple of years, Roger's the best player ever but I think with the court speeds and majority of events being played on clay and outdoor hard courts doesn't favour him.
"You can never count Federer out, and he's proven he's still hungry getting back to number one this year, but I think over the next few years it's between Andy and Djokovic - those two have taken tennis to a new level in terms of physique and it'll be very exciting to see them fight it out."
2012 has seen a more emotional Murray on the court and off it, especially after a heart breaking Wimbledon final loss, but he has gained many fans off the court and the nation seems to be warming to him a lot more as the real Andy Murray emerges.
"Andy's always been quite a shy person who didn't let anyone see the side of him he showed to his friends," Hutchins explained.
"But now he is showing them a bit of that and people are warming to him as they should do because he's a great guy, very funny, a very emotional guy who's just like any other person.
"He's not really holding anything back now and it's so nice to see the public seeing who he really is and they are warming to him and starting to love him as a person, quite rightly, because not only is he an outstanding tennis player but also he's a great guy.
"He is very competitive though, even in training he wants to win all the time. When we train we do have a lot of fun. But the work he's put in and the shape he's got himself into is quite astounding, the way he's able to run around and play matches like the Olympic final, he was so fresh to be able to take Federer down the way he did and if he can continue he can reach the very top."