Murray faces tough US Open defence as Nadal climbs the rankings

Andy Murray

Britain's Andy Murray has been ranked third for the US open and faces a tough task if he is to win back to back titles in New York

Andy Murray will head to next week's US Open as the defending champion, but reclaiming the crown he won last year might not be as easy this time, after the Scotsman was seeded number three for the final major of the year.

The seedings which are based on the world rankings, means that Rafael Nadal heads to Flushing Meadows as world number two, after his victory in the Cincinnati Open yesterday, saw him leapfrog Murray and close the gap on number one, Novak Djokovic.

Nadal's return to the top two is something of a boost for the 12 time grand-slam champion who has been dogged by a succession of knee injuries in the last 18 months, and whilst Murray will be disappointed to slip behind the Spaniard , he will do so knowing that he is healthy and in the form of his life.

Had rankings gone on previous performance then Murray would not have met Djokovic until the final but the latest rankings mean that he could face both Nadal and the Serbian, if he is to win again.

Roger Federer's slide down the rankings to seventh, his lowest ranking for 11 years, will also be of some concern to those seeded highly and with Berdych, Ferrer and Del Potro all ranked above the former number one, the task of winning couldn't be harder.

Defeat to Tomas Berdych last week and a break from tennis after lifting the Wimbledon title a few weeks back, might not seem like the ideal preparation for Murray, but two major titles will shed any doubt of his own ability.

Such is the confidence around his training camp, many have tipped him to put in a big performance when the tournament starts in New York on 26 August, and bookmakers across the country have shunned the rankings and make him the second favourite on his preferred surface.

In truth men's tennis has never been in better shape and if Murray were to win back-to-back grand slams, the gap between him and what must surely be his next goal, (the number one spot) can't be too far away.

There is also more reason for British cheer after Laura Robson was allocated the 31st seed - meaning that her achievement represents the first time a British woman has been seeded at a Grand Slam since Jo Durie at the 1987 Australian Open, and Robson will look to take advantage and go further than her fourth round effort last year.

The draw will take place in New York this Thursday.

image: © carine06