End-of-season report: Andy Murray

Sports Mole looks back over the 2013 tennis season from Andy Murray's point of view.

No tennis player wants to be branded with the 'nearly man' tag - just ask Andy Murray. Ever since he reached his first Grand Slam final back in 2008, where he lost to Roger Federer at Flushing Meadows, he had been dubbed the best player to have never won a major title.

Last year the Scot shifted that weight from his shoulders, though, when at the fifth time of asking he claimed the US Open trophy at the expense of Novak Djokovic.

So, not only did Murray enter this season as a Grand Slam champion, he was also an Olympic gold medallist from the previous summer's Games in London.

As a result, he exuded confidence during January's Brisbane Open when he won the title 7-6 6-4 against Bulgaria's rising star Grigor Dimitrov.

It meant that Murray went into the Australian Open in good form, so much so that he recorded his first victory over Federer in a Grand Slam environment to reach the final in Melbourne.

Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray pose with their Australian Open trophies on January 27, 2013.© Getty Images

There he was pitted against his old foe Djokovic, who was looking for revenge following the defeat that he had suffered at the US Open. Tie-breaks were traded during the opening two sets, before the Serb eased to the title, having dropped just five games.

Murray put that disappointment behind him by winning the Miami Masters in March, but after that, he struggled on the clay. In Monte Carlo he lost in the last 16 to Stanislas Wawrinka, before Tomas Berdych sent him packing in Madrid.

Next up was the Rome Masters, where he was forced to retire during his match against Spaniard Marcel Granollers because of a back complaint. It was an injury that subsequently forced him to withdraw from the French Open.

After a four-week spell on the sidelines, Murray returned on the lawns of the Queen's Club, where he overhauled a one-set deficit to pip Marin Cilic to the title.

Then it was on to Wimbledon - the scene of mixed emotions for Murray 12 months earlier. He lost in the final to Federer, but then beat the Swiss star to gold at the Olympics. The early exits of Rafael Nadal and R-Fed may have made his path a little easier this time around, but he still encountered an in-form Jerzy Janowicz in the semi-finals.

Andy Murray of Great Britain poses with the Gentlemen's Singles Trophy following his victory in the Gentlemen's Singles Final match against Novak Djokovic of Serbia on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis © Getty Images

The Pole was dispatched in four sets and once again Djokovic stood between Murray and glory. No British male had won a singles title at SW19 in 77 years, but the wait was ended as the home favourite recorded a 6-4 7-5 6-4 triumph, much to the delight of the crowd.

It didn't happen for him on the hard courts, though, as he lost to Ernests Gulbis and Berdych in Montreal and Cincinnati. Nevertheless, he went into the US Open as the defending champion and dropped just two sets on his way to the quarter-finals. There he met Wawrinka, who took advantage of a below-par performance from Murray to claim the victory.

Murray found some solace in the form of the Davis Cup in September, playing a key role as Great Britain returned to the World Group thanks to a victory over their Croatian counterparts.

That is where the story ends, though. The back problem that had forced him to miss out at Roland Garros had returned and so it was decided that the 26-year-old would go under the surgeon's knife to correct the complaint. It ruled him out of the Asian leg of the season, as well as the ATP World Tour Finals in London.

Setbacks permitting, Murray will return in Brisbane, where he is the two-time defending champion. Then comes the task of trying to win a third Grand Slam title.

Great Britain's Andy Murray celebrates after beating Croatia's Ivan Dodig during day three of their Davis Cup World Cup play-off tie on September 15, 2013© Getty Images

Serbia's Novak Djokovic poses with his trophy after winning the final match of the ninth and final ATP World Tour Masters 1000 indoor tennis tournament on November 3, 2013
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