Montreal Masters: Andy Murray ready to resume World No 1 pursuit
Andy Murray's pursuit of the World No 1 spot will resume in earnest in Canada, says Barry Cowan.
Last Updated: 06/08/13 10:18am
Murray's scalp is always prized but after winning his second major four weeks ago there's even more pressure on him to perform; people will expect the Wimbledon champion to consistently play like he did in the final - something, of course, that is unrealistic.
Fortunately Andy has excelled at starting again and building momentum in recent years, so I've no doubt he'll rise to the challenge again.
Since winning at Wimbledon, Murray's had plenty of time to enjoy his success and reflect on achieving a goal that he's been striving for, for years and years.
Sometimes refocusing your energies on a fresh goal can be the hardest thing in sport but Murray won't be lacking motivation, that's for sure, because he still has so much to achieve in the sport.
He wants to get to World No 1 and you don't get there by just playing great in the four Grand Slams; he may have won the US Open and Wimbledon, and reached the Australian final (and missed the French), but he's still miles behind Novak Djokovic in the standings!
The Montreal draw has done Murray no favours, setting him on a collision course for either Grigor Dimitrov or Marcel Granollers in the second round.
Granollers will be on a high after beating Juan Monaco to win the Kitzbuehel Cup in Austria, although it is a tough ask to make such a quick transition from playing at altitude on clay in Europe to performing on a hard court in Montreal.
Meanwhile Dimitrov has been in action in Washington, where he was beaten in straight sets by Tommy Haas in the quarters.
The Bulgarian has shown plenty of encouraging signs within the last year or so; back in April Ivan Lendl said the best set of tennis he'd seen was the first set of the Brisbane final between Dimitrov and Murray, which is praise indeed.
However, we've also seen some disappointing signs from him - not least his second-round defeat at Wimbledon to Grega Zemlja.
The nature of the way that he plays means that he's going to have his ups and downs, but overall his game is improving and in many ways Murray could scarcely have a tougher second round opponent if that's what transpires.
Should Murray lose early on I don't believe it would affect his US Open chances - just as losing at Queen's didn't do his Wimbledon chances any harm last year - but it would underline just how big a challenge it is to get to the top of the world rankings.
Beyond that Murray could face Juan Martin del Potro in the quarters and David Ferrer in the semis - both tough matches, but that's just what he needs at this stage of the season.
Rafael Nadal is, like Djokovic, in the opposing half of the draw and the big question is 'just how fit is the Spaniard?' By all accounts he wasn't right going into that first-round Wimbledon match against Steve Darcis and he didn't perform.
I feel that was mainly a consequence of how much tennis he had played up to that point. He pushed himself to his absolute limit to win the French Open and had nothing left in the tank.
But throughout his career he's proved that he can come back and play well after time off so all eyes will no doubt be on him, especially with the US Open on the horizon.
Nadal does, at least, seem in a better place than Roger Federer who has withdrawn from the Rogers Cup with a back injury after suffering two early exits in his last three events.
In all honesty I'm more concerned by the state of Federer's injury than those losses because he won't be able to push himself in practice, which won't help him get over difficult moments when he returns to the court.
Just as Murray sat out the French, it may be that Federer needs to sit out the next three or four months to ensure he gets his back right for the end of the year.
There's no point Federer going into a tournament 75 per cent fit because he's not going to win; instead he'll lose confidence and some of that aura that he's generated over his career.
As things stand, players don't fear Federer so he should only come back when he's 100 per cent.
The reasons for Viktor Troicki's absence in Canada are, of course, entirely different in nature after he was suspended for 18 months for violating anti-doping regulations.
Troicki is appealing the decision - and perhaps the length of the ban is a touch on the harsh side - but having read the whole case it is clear that no player can afford to take their own responsibilities lightly.
It amazes me that he thought he'd be alright to miss a blood test, even if he was ill.
I was always told that whatever the circumstances you should never refuse a test because it is viewed in the same light as a positive test.
Troicki took the test the next day and passed, so I have some sympathy with him, but the bottom line is that he behaved wrongly and I'm sure he will be regretting his actions now.
We want our sport to be clean and I don't think the ITF had any other option but to give him a ban of 12 months plus, otherwise where do you join the line? Troicki has either been badly advised or has simply been naïve.
When I went to the Olympics in 2000 I was given pages and pages of information detailing what I could and what I couldn't take and it scared me to the point that I stopped taking Hydrafuel - a drink that many players were taking - because there had been cases of other sports drinks being contaminated at that time.
I felt that I was responsible for what I put in my body and didn't want to take the risk. Athletes should trust the people around them but ultimately the responsibility lies with them.
Hopefully this incident will serve as a wake-up call to other players of the dangers of complacency.