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Murray ready to fulfil U.S. Open dream

Written by: Staff

NEW HAVEN, Connecticut, Aug 24 (Reuters) When Pete Sampras beat Andre Agassi to win the 2002 US Open final, a 15-year-old Andy Murray was watching at home in Scotland, dreaming of what it might be like to play under the lights at Flushing Meadows.

Just four years later, having broken into the world's top 20 and with a win over world number one Roger Federer fresh in his memory, Murray's dream could come true as he heads to next week's US Open as the 17th seed and one of the most in-form players.

''I remember watching Agassi and Sampras when they played in the final,'' Murray told Reuters.

''I was playing a four-nations (event) -- England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales -- in Glasgow when I watched the match. I think it was then I knew that I wanted to play in one of the night matches.'' Murray has long said the US Open is his favourite grand-slam event and there is something about the place that seems to suit him.

''I think it is just because it (the city) is me,'' he said.

''It's a city that matches my personality. New York is my sort of city. It is pretty loud and I like that.

''It is definitely my best surface, I have said that from the start. It is probably going to be my best chance to win a grand-slam event. I know I can play well on hard courts and beat the best players in the world on that surface.'' Considering that he had to qualify for the US Open last year, reaching the second round, Murray's rise up the rankings has been nothing short of meteoric.

From 514th in the world at the end of 2004, he broke into the top 100 towards the end of 2005 and won his first ATP Tour title in San Jose in February.

GOOD EFFORT He reached the Washington final this month, made the Toronto Masters Series semi-finals and the last eight in Cincinnati last week, beating Federer in the process.

''I think the top 20 is a pretty good effort,'' Murray said.

''Not too many guys get to the top 20 when they are 19. It's pretty exciting for me to get seeded. If I can get through a couple of matches the draw can open up and anything can happen after that.'' As one of the hottest properties on the Tour, Murray has spent time this week fulfilling commitments with one of his main sponsors, Royal Bank of Scotland, but his focus is clearly on doing well on the big stage.

The Scot begins his title bid against a qualifier, with a potential clash against Chilean Nikolay Davydenko, the number 10 seed, in the third round.

''Playing a qualifier is obviously a lot better draw than playing a seed,'' Murray said.

''I think (the aim) is to get further than I did last year. If I get to the round I'm seeded to, that's what I am expected to, and if I get further then that will be good.'' REUTERS PM PM0908

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