Continued from page 2

Continuing what he termed “a magical summer for me,” Federer earned his first individual Olympic medal. Then he showed he can still turn up big on hard courts, winning a record-equaling 21st career Masters title last weekend, holding serve throughout the tournament and beating Djokovic in the final.

Federer, Djokovic and Nadal have combined to win 29 of the past 30 Grand Slam titles (del Potro is the only interloper in that span, which began in 2005).

Murray has been on the outside looking in, but there are suspicions that his success at the Olympics could be a harbinger of what’s to come.

“Come the U.S. Open, I hope this will have given me the confidence to go there and believe in myself a bit more than I have in the past,” Murray said at the Olympics, “and give myself a shot at winning there.”

It also means he already owns one of this season’s top five prizes; Djokovic won the Australian Open in January, and Nadal won the French Open in June, before Federer re-emerged at Wimbledon.

“It is interesting, obviously, that three different guys have won three different majors this year, plus Andy the gold,” Federer said. “It definitely sets a great tone for the U.S. Open, there’s no doubt about that.”

With Nadal sidelined, and Murray still waiting to win a major final, Federer and Djokovic appear set to take center stage at the U.S. Open.

At the very least, Federer is firmly back at the forefront.

“Putting my pure fan hat on: He’s one of the greatest of all time. It’s not only the quality of his play; it’s how he represents our sport on the court and off the court,” WTA Chairman and CEO Stacey Allaster said. “He’s just one of those athletes that we’ll all look back and say how blessed we were to have been able to see him perform at the highest level of our sport that we’ve ever seen, and for such a long period of time.”

___

Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

___

AP Sports Writers Rachel Cohen, Rick Gano and Steven Wine contributed to this report.