Andy Murray gets head start on U.S. Open preparations

LONDON (Reuters) - Andy Murray gave away a signed U.S. Open T-shirt to the Twitter fan who correctly guessed his first-round opponent at Flushing Meadows.

The fourth seed will not be in such a charitable mood when he begins his latest attempt to get the major monkey off his back when he takes on 22-year-old Slovak Lukas Lacko.

Murray arrived in New York early for the August 30-September 12 tournament after his run in Cincinnati was ended by Mardy Fish and has enjoyed the extra time in his favorite city.

The Scot get great support in the Big Apple where 'Murray Mania' eclipses the more polite support he draws at Wimbledon.

There is something about the frenetic pace of life, the hustle and bustle of Flushing Meadows and the sheer sporting theater of Arthur Ashe Court and all its din that allows Murray to truly express his personality.

While the chemistry was not right last year when he was ousted in straight sets by Croatia's Marin Cilic, albeit with his wrist causing some pain, Murray arrives in scintillating form this year after recent wins over the top contenders.

After ditching coach Miles Maclagan, the 23-year-old has cut a relaxed figure during the North American hardcourt swing and is clearly reveling in answering for himself the many questions his multi-dimensional game poses.

While Murray has been accused of trapping himself in the intricate webs he weaves with his quirky hide and seek tennis, he showed in Toronto this month that when the mood strikes he can blast the world's best off the court.

Fatigue eventually caught up with him in Cincinnati where he ran out of gas against Fish, but it was a not a defeat that appeared to unsettle Murray.

Instead it allowed him more time to prepare for the U.S. Open where he reached the final two years ago after beating Nadal before falling to a commanding Federer.

Murray's second grand slam final at this year's Australian Open was a different story. He genuinely expected to beat Federer in Melbourne but was again outplayed, prompting a tearful post-match meltdown.

It took him months to recover from that reality check but he snapped out of his shell at Wimbledon where he cruised to the semi-finals only to run into an inspired Nadal who could be Murray's semi-final opponent in New York.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Frank Pingue.)