Friday, 17 August 2012

A different Andy Murray?

With the US Open less than a fortnight away, the question has to be whether claiming Olympic Gold is going to prove to be a turning point in the career of Andy Murray. No number of articles, blog posts or interviews could possibly enhance how aware we all are of his 'nearly man' status.

To date, twenty-seven grand slams have produced four major finals, which in turn have yielded just one set won. No-one can question his ability, speed around the court, outstanding returning and seemingly relentless defensive abilities. He has vastly improved his second serve and ability to attack rather than just waiting for opponents' mistakes, but most of all, he is mentally stronger. Only time and results will be a true measure but claiming his first genuinely significant title will surely have taught Murray like nothing else that he really is good enough to beat the best.

Only once before (2010 Toronto Masters) had he beaten two of the top 3 in consecutive matches. On six occasions he beat one before losing to the next (normally in the final). But at the Olympics, he beat both Djokovic and Federer. Of course neither were on the top of their game, Novak seeming out of sorts and almost demotivated and Roger simply shattered, but that effect was greatly exacerbated by Murray's sheer aggression and dominance all over the court.

There was something different about him, determined and proud, the crowd fully unified behind him, exuding confidence. He was by quite some distance the best player at the tournament, by a long way, and it never seemed even remotely possible that he could lose. Perhaps being part of something bigger, participating as a member of Team GB, perhaps something else, but irrespective of the reason, this was a different Andy Murray.

Heading to Flushing Meadows, he must be right up there with Djokovic and Federer as a one of, if not the clear favourite. Nadal's withdrawal doesn't change the fact that Murray will have to beat them both (upsets aside), but we now know he can and very possibly, the Scot knows it now as well. 

What I really do hope for is a high quality final. There are few better sights in tennis than a Grand Slam final, where both players are completely at the top of their games. So often it seems as though one player doesn't quite compete as we know they can, and it ends up as less of a contest than it has the potential for. The Wimbledon final was a perfect example of a high-class clash between the two best players in the tournament.
The variety and accuracy with which Federer distributed the ball around the court was utterly remarkable, and frankly without compare. Murray played as well as he could, finding a great balance with his solid defence providing an excellent foundation from which to attack. Maybe in a few weeks time we will be able to say that both played to their maximum but that Murray came out on top at last.


  1. Breakthrough or no breakthrough for Murray, my feet will remain firmly in camp Federer til the bitter end. Agree with you on the most part but your final sentence sent shudders of horror racing through me - that would be unbearable. Can't believe you're selling out to write this sort of stuff Mr Hopwood!

  2. As a Brit (and I sincerely hope the previous poster is not one) and a proud one, I have always been a supporter of Andy Murray. From day one, even as a petulant teen, I could see he was special. Back then I would tell anyone who would listen to me that he would eclipse Tim Henmann and he surely did. In fact he bypassed him spectacularly way beyond my expectations.

    Of course I respect Federer, as a champion and as a player, but people forget that Murray is a great role model as well. The only real difference between the two is that Federer has all the honours. Hence he has more glory hunting fans - I'm qualified to say that as Man Utd fan!

    Sam you didn't comment on Ivan Lendl but I think he should take a lot of credit as the catalyst for success at Wimbledon and then the Olympics. Murray's temperament has always been his stumbling block in recent Slams, but he seems to have suppressed his need to berate himself on court. Murray wiped the floor with Federer at Wimbledon so I see that as a massive psychological advantage going into Flushing Meadows, if Novak isn't on form I think Murray will finally, fingers crossed, win his first Slam.

  3. Yeah I agree Dom, Lendl has made a difference, but I don't think it can be properly judged how much of a difference until Murray wins a Slam. They're the only two players in history to lose their first 4 GS finals so it remains to be seen if the impact will help Murray make that final jump and emulate his coach.
    Already looking forward to the draw in an hour or two!

  4. Ridiculous article

  5. Ricidulous meaningless comment


  6. Get in Murray!! Doubters can go away now woop.