Murray out for more glory before his powers diminish
The passing of time is strengthening Andy Murray's determination to make the very best of his talent.
The 29-year-old Scot has been sweeping all before him in recent weeks, winning both Wimbledon and the Olympics, and as he looked ahead to next week's US Open and beyond, he said he expected to be at his peak for three or four more years.
"I hope I'm still playing like this when I'm 38, but it's pretty unlikely," Murray said with a smile. "I'm using that as a positive. You have to make the most of every opportunity. It's a different mentality to when you're younger and you feel like you have time on your side. I want to make the most of every tournament and try and win as much as I can in the next few years."
Murray is in the form of his life, having reached the final of his last seven tournaments and won four of them - the Rome Masters, the Aegon Championships at Queen's Club, Wimbledon and the Olympics.
However, his two biggest wins of the year, at the All England Club and Rio, came after early exits by Novak Djokovic, who has won five of his six meetings with the Scot in the last 12 months.
Djokovic, who has played in six of the last nine US Open finals and is the defending champion, is the bookmakers' favourite to win the tournament, which begins on Monday, despite having to deal with an injury to his left wrist which forced him out of last week's Cincinnati Masters.
The draws at Flushing Meadows for the top two men, who are seeded to meet in the final, could hardly be a greater contrast.
Djokovic's route is littered with big hitters while Murray's consists mostly of seasoned professionals who have not given him much trouble in the past.
Murray has won both his previous matches against his first-round opponent, the Czech Republic's Lukas Rosol, though their meeting in Munich last year was a feisty affair. During an on-court confrontation, Murray told Rosol: "No one likes you on the tour. Everyone hates you."
If world rankings and seedings go to plan Murray would then face Marcel Granollers, Gilles Simon and Feliciano Lopez before a quarter-final meeting with Kei Nishikori and a semi-final against Stan Wawrinka.
Djokovic, meanwhile, first plays the 6ft 8in Pole, Jerzy Janowicz, and could meet several other fearsome ball-strikers from the third round onwards in Jiri Vesely (6ft 6in), John Isner (6ft 10in), Marin Cilic (6ft 6in) and Milos Raonic (6ft 5in).
Twelve months ago Murray suffered his earliest defeat at a Grand Slam for six years when he lost to Kevin Anderson in the fourth round.
The Scot blamed his form on the fact that he had barely had a break since the spring. This year he took time off after Wimbledon and has taken it easy this week.
Djokovic, meanwhile, has had a mixed summer. Since completing his Grand Slam collection by winning the French Open he has played only nine matches (compared with Murray's 23). He lost in the third round at Wimbledon, won the Toronto Masters and then left the Olympics in tears after losing in the first round to Juan Martin del Potro.
Murray has been narrowing Djokovic's lead at the top of the world rankings this summer. The Serb still has a healthy lead but has a lot of ranking points to defend before the end of the year.
Djokovic admitted that he had been suffering with his wrist injury for nearly a month and was having intensive treatment. With Rafael Nadal also recovering from a similar injury, Murray, who suffered a serious wrist injury nine years ago, said: "I've done (wrist exercises) every day for the last eight or nine years because I had that when I was young."
Djokovic also cast more light on his defeat to Sam Querrey at Wimbledon. The Serb said he had been dealing with a private issue. "It happened (at Wimbledon)," he said. "It was resolved and life is going on."