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Murray needs to hurry in the race for Slams

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By Nick Harris

14 January 2010

Murray: hopes for hot streak Down Under

Andy Murray is 22, and turns 23 in May 2010. If he has aspirations to be a multiple Grand Slam winner, then history suggest he needs to get a move on. Below is a list of the 31 different men who have won men’s Slam singles titles since 1984.  The table also gives details of each player’s first Slam (place and year), the age at which they won it, and a summary of all their Slam wins.

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The stats show that players who win their first Slam title over the age of 22 are statistically unlikely to win more than one.

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The only exceptions to that rule in recent decades have been Pat Rafter, who had his first Slam win (of two) aged 24, and Ivan Lendl, also 24 when he had his first Slam win (of eight).

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Eleven players since 1984 have won a first Slam aged over 22. Nine of them (or 82%) never won another.

Twenty Slam winners since 1984 won their first Slam under 23. Of those, 14 of them (70%) won at least two Slam singles titles, while another three players (Del Potro, Djokovic and Roddick) still could.

Just three players (of  20) who were “young winners” failed to build on early success with another Slam. They were Pat Cash, Michael Chang and Carlos Moya.

Many of the greats from earlier in the Open era also won a first Slam before the age 23; John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg, Ken Rosewall and Rod Laver all did so.

If Murray doesn’t win the Australian Open in 2010, history suggests that if he wins any Slam in his career, it will most likely be the French Open, once, at around the age of 25 or 26. Then again, Andre Agassi – a player with who Murray is often compared – won his first Slam at 22 and went on to win eight. If Murray is going to replicate Agassi’s career, a win in Melbourne would be the perfect place to start. Agassi’s record also shows late developers don’t lack anything in durability.

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MALE GRAND SLAM SINGLES WINNERS IN REVERSE ORDER

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Player, nationality (first Slam singles title)           Age at first title

Juan Martín del Potro, Arg (2009 US)                           20

US: 2009.

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Roger Federer, Swi (2003 Wimbledon)                         21

Wim: 2003-07, 09; US: 2004-08; Aus: 2004, 06,07; Fr: 2009.

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Rafael Nadal, Sp (2005 French)                                   18

Fr: 2005-08; Wim: 2008; Aus 2009.

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Novak Djokovic, Ser (2008 Australian)                        20

Aus: 2008.

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Marat Safin, Rus (2000 US)                                         20

US: 2000; Aus: 2005.

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Gaston Gaudio, Arg  (2004 French)                             25        NMW

Fr: 2004.

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Andy Roddick, US (2003 US)                                      21

US: 2003.

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Juan Carlos Ferrero, Sp (2003 French)                       23        NMW

Fr: 2003.

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Andre Agassi, US (1992 Wimbledon)                          22

Wim: 1992;  US: 1994, 99; Aus: 1995, 2000,01, 03; Fr: 1999.

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Pete Sampras, US (1990 US)                                     19

US: 1990, 93, 95, 96, 02; Wim: 1993-95, 97-00; Aus 1994, 97.

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Lleyton Hewitt, Aus (2001 US)                                   20

US: 2001; Wim 2002.

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Albert Costa, Sp (2002 French)                                  26        NMW

Fr: 2002.

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Thomas Johansson, Swe (2002 Australian)              26        NMW

Aus: 2002.

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Goran Ivanisevic, Cro (2001 Wimbledon)                  29        NMW

Wim: 2001.

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Gustavo Kuerten, Bra (1997 French)                         20

Fr: 1997, 2000, 01.

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Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Rus (1996 French)                   22

Fr: 1996; Aus 1999.

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Patrick Rafter, Aus (1997, US)                                   24*

US: 1997, 98.

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Carlos Moya, Sp (1998, French)                                21          NMW

Fr: 1998.

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Petr Korda, Cz (1998, Aus)                                        30          NMW

Aus: 1998.

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Richard Krajicek, Neth (1996 Wimbledon)                 24        NMW

Wim: 1996.

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Boris Becker, Ger (1985 Wimbledon)                         17

Wim: 1985, 85, 89. US: 1989; Aus: 1991, 96.

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Thomas Muster, Aut (1995 French)                            27      NMW

Fr: 1995.

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Sergi Bruguera, Sp (1993 French)                              22

Fr: 1993, 94.

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Jim Courier, US (1991 US)                                          21

US: 1991, 92; Aus: 1992, 93.

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Stefan Edberg, Swe (1985 Australian)                        19

Aus: 1985, 1987; Wim 1988, 90; US: 1991, 92.

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Michael Stich, Ger (1991 Wimbeldon)                          22     NMW

Wim: 1991.

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Andres Gomez, Ecu (1990 French)                              30     NMW

Fr: 1990.

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Ivan Lendl, Czk (1984 French)                                      24*

Fr: 1984, 86, 87; US: 1985-87; Aus 1989, 90.

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Michael Chang, US (1989, French)                               17    NMW

Fr: 1989.

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Mats Wilander, Swe (1982, French)                              17

Fr: 1982, 85, 88; Aus: 1983, 84, 88; US: 1988.

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Pat Cash, Aus (1987, Wimbledon)                                22    NMW

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NMW = never a multiple winner of Slam singles titles.

* multi-Slam winner who won first Slam over the age of 22.

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Other multi-Slam winners in the Open era (since 1968 French Open):

John McEnroe won first of 7 titles aged 20 at the US in 1979

Jimmy Connors won first of 8 titles aged 21 at the Australian in 1974

Johan Kriek* won first of 2 titles aged 23 at the Australian in 1981

Bjorn Borg win first of 11 titles aged 17 at the French in 1974

Guillermo Villas* won first of 4 titles aged 24 at the French in 1977

Arthur Ashe* won first of 3 titles aged 25 at the US in 1968

John Newcombe* won first of 7 titles aged 23 at the US in 1967

Jan Kodes* won first of 3 titles aged 26 at the French in 1970

Ilie Nastase* won first of 2 titles aged 26 at the US in 1972

Stan Smith* won first of 2 titles aged 24 at the US in 1971

Ken Rosewall won first of 8 titles aged 18 at the Australian in 1953

Rod Laver won first of 11 titles aged 21 at the Australian in 1960

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