Ohio: Andy Murray won his seventh Masters series final with victory over world number one Novak Djokovic on Sunday and his prospects of winning a grand slam have never looked better.
Djokovic was forced to retire with a shoulder injury when trailing 6-4 3-0 in the Cincinnati Open final and while the world number one was confident of playing at the US Open, Murray could again be the main beneficiary.
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who have dominated the sport until Djokovic's remarkable year this season, both went out in the quarter-finals at Cincinnati.
Spaniard Nadal has struggled with a heel problem and looked short of his best during this week, before eventually bowing out to American Mardy Fish.
Federer's loss to Czech Tomas Berdych in Cincinnati came after a third round exit in Canada and the 30-year-old has not won a tournament since Doha in January.
So perhaps the stars are lining up for the 24-year-old Murray, who has never won a grand slam title yet so remains naturally cautious about writing off his main rivals.
"The thing is, you never know," he told reporters.
"Those guys could end up making the semi-finals of the US Open, and then you get a chance to see whether it is a chance. If all of them lose early, then, you know, obviously my chances would go up.
"But I'm sure, come the start of the US Open next Monday, all of them will be fine. I think each one of them will be playing great tennis, much better than they have played here."
Murray knows that Cincinnati is a far cry from a grand slam but he was encouraged by the fact he performed so well on a surface and in weather that is comparable to what awaits at Flushing Meadows.
"I think the conditions are similar. It's normally pretty humid in New York and the courts are very similar to the ones here," said the Scotsman.
"So if you can get a few matches here and play well, it gives you good confidence going into the US Open. It's not a huge change in surface or speed of court, so that definitely helps."
If Djokovic is the man to beat in New York, Murray at least has the confidence of having beaten him four times, all of them on hard courts, including twice in Cincinnati and he said conditions had been a factor in his wins.
"I would say that the conditions have probably played quite a big part in it," Murray said.
"When I played him in the heat in the Miami final I played well, here when I played him in the final it was very hot, and then today again it was very hot until the clouds came over at the end of the first set."
The Serb's retirement did take the shine off Murray's victory but he was clearly buoyed by a week of improved tennis.
"I would have obviously liked to have won by finishing the match but it happens sometimes," Murray said.
"I have to look at the week as a whole. It's been a very good week. Coming in here I had played badly in Montreal, so I needed to have a good week.
"Regardless of the match today, I was happy with the way that it had gone. Glad I managed to win today, but unfortunate the way it happened.
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