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Sports

Andy Murray aims to defend US Open tennis title

NEW YORK — Andy Murray chuckled as he explained the very best part about owning a pair of Grand Slam titles, one from the US Open last year, the other from Wimbledon last month. No more of those nagging, oft-repeated queries — the ones he heard over and over and over again.

‘‘Not too much for me has changed. But the one thing that’s been nice is that, literally for five or six years, I did a press conference before every tournament and after every single match, and I got asked that question, I’d say, 90 percent of the time: Why have you never won Wimbledon? When are you going to win Wimbledon? Why have you not won a Grand Slam?’’ said Murray.

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‘‘So that’s the thing that, for me, has been the nicest: Not having to answer that question,’’ he added, standing outside the locker rooms at Arthur Ashe Stadium, not far from the oversized color picture and silver plaque that commemorate his 2012 victory at Flushing Meadows. ‘‘I can just play tennis now and not have to worry about that anymore.’’

That’s right. When the year’s last major tennis tournament begins on the US Open’s blue hard courts on Monday, Murray will have other concerns.

For example: What might it feel like to successfully defend a Grand Slam championship? Or how many of these can he win? Will he even be able to win one more? Yes, for a guy who has accomplished so much over the past 13 months, redefining his career and place in the game, Murray still sounds very much like someone harboring quite a bit of uncertainty. His success at the US Open in 2012 did, after all, make him the first British man since Fred Perry in 1936 to win a Grand Slam title. His success at Wimbledon in July, as everyone knows by now, made him the first British man since Perry 77 years ago to earn the singles trophy at the All England Club. Toss in a London Olympics gold medal, and it’s been quite a run.

The 2012 women’s champion, Serena Williams, owns 16 Grand Slam titles, four at the US Open. Usually when she loses at a major tournament, the sting sticks around for a while.

That was the case with this year’s Wimbledon, where her 34-match winning streak surprisingly ended with a fourth-round exit.

‘‘I was obviously bothered. I wanted to do better. I was disappointed. I’m still disappointed,’’ Williams said. ‘‘But I had opportunities and I didn’t take them in the match. I have to realize that I have to just be better and learn from the experience. It’s not the end of the world. I can always do better and keep growing.’’

Asked what advice she might offer Murray about attempting to repeat as champion at a Grand Slam tournament, the top-seeded Williams said, ‘‘For me, it’s not about defending. It’s about: ‘This is the US Open. I want to try to win this title.’ Last year was last year. It’s time to try to have fun this year. That’s how I look at it.’’

Murray is seeded No. 3, and the expectation is that he or one of the men ahead of him, No. 1 Novak Djokovic and No. 2 Rafael Nadal, will hold the trophy after the final, which is scheduled for Sept. 9. It’s the first time since 1954 that the tournament is supposed to end on a Monday (the men’s final was played on a Monday each of the past five years, but that was because of rain delays).

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