At the Net: What's next for Andy Murray?

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Now that his 2013 season is over, what should we expect from Andy Murray next year?

The British star was forced to shut it down for the year after undergoing back surgery earlier this week.

Murray announced last week that he would skip the current Asian swing on the ATP World Tour in order to address the back problems that forced him to miss the French Open back in June.

He may have skipped Roland Garros, but that didn't stop the Scottish native from becoming the first British men's singles champion at Wimbledon in 77 years the following month.

The mighty Murray is also the reigning Olympic gold medalist, a trick he turned last year at the All England Club, which played host to the tennis portion of the wildly successful 2012 London Games.

Now the 26-year-old Murray can set his sights on the Australian Open, where he's been the runner-up three of the last four years, including this year against current world No. 1 star Novak Djokovic, who also bested the Brit in the Down Under final in 2011.

The world No. 3 Murray actually hasn't ruled out playing in the ATP World Tour Finals in London in November, although it would probably be a big risk to return so soon from back surgery, on a hardcourt no less.

Maybe he should just follow Rafael Nadal's lead, which is, take seven months off from the tour and then simply dominate upon your return. Having said that, Andy is no Rafa (13 Grand Slam titles)... at least not at this point.

Just when we thought that Murray was the best player in the world after he won Wimbledon (after all, he held the Wimbledon, U.S. Open and Olympic titles at that point), Nadal promptly re-inserted himself as the top dog on the planet by capturing just about everything in sight, including the U.S. Open a couple weeks ago.

Note: Nadal captured the U.S. and French Opens while competing in only three of the four Slams this year.

So what is Murray missing that keeps him from reaching No. 1?

Well, it's a couple of things.

Murray doesn't quite seem to be able to physically handle the grueling 11- month schedule (he's never reached a final at the prestigious season-ending Tour Finals), and he still has not peaked mentally, even under the tutelage of the great Ivan Drago, I mean Ivan Lendl. And, by most accounts, Murray still spends too much time playing PS3, just ask his lovely long-time girlfriend, Kim Sears.

Sure, Murray has the ability/skill to win any tennis tournament, with the exception of the French Open as long as Nadal and Djokovic are around and firing on most cylinders. But will he claim as many as six major titles like his good friend Djokovic? He's already 26 and has still secured only two Grand Slam titles. And Djokovic and Nadal don't appear to be going away any time soon.

So what will it take for Murray to get over the proverbial hump? He has officially surpassed Roger Federer in the current ranks inside the "Big Four," but until he's accomplished something like Djokovic has, AM still might be in the category of "slightly disappointing." And don't forget, he's still only 2-5 in his career major finals, a far cry from making him one of the game's all-time greats, which Federer, Nadal and Djokovic certainly are.