Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Andy Murray take a bow.

The media liked to play up just how long it had been since there had been a British male grand slam champion.  The length of time lasted a full 76 years since Fred Perry last triumphed in the US open in 1936.  I guess it makes for a good narrative, but really it just casts a shadow on some of the excellent tennis players we've produced since, almost implying that their career's hadn't been good enough because they'd not managed to win one of the sport's greatest prizes.  The stat has been used to undermine a few excellent careers... well they can't use it any more...

On Monday night, in front of a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium, Tennis' biggest venue with a 22,547 capacity, Andy Murray produced a performance of a true champion.  He has had a great career to this point, 23 previous titles (including 8 Masters), almost continuously in the top 4 in the world for over 4 years, all the time competing against three of the best players the game has seen.  Despite his near $20million winnings prior to the US Open the media, and most of the public kept putting this monkey on his back even though he's the most successful British player in my lifetime - we do like to put down our successful individuals.

For years most people just saw the grumpy guy on court getting frustrated, I'm not totally surprised that he hadn't endeared himself to the public who in reality probably just see him once a year at Wimbledon and see another failed attempt, they don't see the gritty battler who is one of only two players on the circuit to have a winning record against Roger Federer and rarely fails to give the best players a game.  He obviously changed many people's view of him this year with his moving speech after his valiant effort in this year's Wimbledon final, then even more so when he was so obviously enjoying himself during the Olympics winning the gold medal but potentially more so with his appearance alongside Laura Robson in the doubles winning silver.

Now though he has cast this monkey firmly off his back, winning in possibly the greatest arena of them all and he deserves to laugh in the doubter's faces.  People may point to Federer's early exit and Nadal's injury but these shouldn't detract from Andy, he deserved it and won the final against a great player.  When you compare this to the other three's first victories it is definitely harder: Roger won against Mark Philippoussis, Rafa only needed to beat Mariano Puerta and Novak had his first victory against Jo-Wilfred Tsonga.  No offence to those players but beating the world number 2 and a player who hadn't lost in a hard court grand slam event since 2010 is a much harder prospect.  

Murray has worked so hard improving his game, every time he's lost it's like his attitude has been that he just needs to work harder and improve.  I've watched so many of his matches over the past few years and he's been so near, he's had some great games against the big 3, the Australian Open semi against Novak this year will live long in my memory, but now it's finally time for him to stand up on the top step and take a bow - hopefully though he wont stop working hard and can go on to cement himself as one of the games greats, just as his coach Ivan Lendl did.

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