Andy Murray can hold his head high in what is proving to be a golden period in British sport
So he’s done it. Andy Murray has finally conquered Wimbledon. The first Briton to win the prestigious men’s grand slam title at the All England Club since Mr Fred Perry achieved the feat 77 long years ago. So what does it all mean? Well, to begin with, it’s one less thing this nation of whingers can moan about. But with the current state of the English football team, I think there’s still enough to keep us going.
People have already compared it to England’s Football World Cup triumph in 1966, England’s Rugby Union World Cup victory in 2003, and Sir Bradley Wiggins ending Britain’s long wait for a winner of the Tour de France. These comparisons are usually futile, but in this instance, I would argue it may be an even bigger sporting achievement than those mentioned. For Britain to host the greatest tennis tournament on earth for so many years without a winner has been a serious embarrassment.
It’s hard to imagine how hard it must have been for him to win this event, having to face a constant barrage of questions about the country’s 77-year-long wait and Fred Perry, as well as the ultimate matter – “Is this your year?” This title has been the lost ark of British sport, something many thought would never be found. The Scot proved himself worthy of an Indiana Jones fedora, and in the process, got the proverbial monkey off his back and the nations’ mind set.
It’s also begs the question; how would Federer, Nadal or Djokovic have dealt with the intense pressure if Wimbledon were their home slam? Would Federer or Sampras have been able to win seven Wimbledon titles if they called Blighty home or, indeed, Nadal eight French Opens if he were a Parisian? Pat Cash is of the opinion they would have won less, which again highlights the immense burden Murray has been under.
Then there’s the way he dealt with his toughest loss. This time 12 months ago Murray stood on centre court sobbing, having just been beaten for the fourth time in a grand slam final, by 17-time slam champion, Roger Federer. How did he respond? Well, just six weeks later he won Olympic gold, this time defeating Federer, before going on to win his maiden grand slam at the US Open in September. He finally delivered his potential and has shown that he can compete with any of the world’s top players.
Murray is also playing in what many experts and ex-pros call the golden era of tennis in the men’s game. Nadal, Federer and Djokovic had won 29 of the last 30 grand slams before last year’s US Open. It goes to show just how hard it has been to break the stronghold these three players had on the game. To not only win Wimbledon, but to also have raised his level over the last 18 months so much so that he could compete with three of the greatest players ever, and beat them, is remarkable.
All of this with the added pressure of the British media and public on his shoulders. It’s eight years since Murray was thrust onto our screens as a wee 18-year-old and, in that time, he has gone under a huge public transformation. Originally perceived as a moody and stroppy Scottish teenager, the public didn’t take to him. But in the last year he has shown his true colours. His overflow of emotions after losing last year’s final and winning gold at the Olympics endeared him to the public, leading to unequivocal support and Prime Minister David Cameron even suggesting he deserves a knighthood for his achievements.
One thing we can be sure of is that he will be the frontrunner to win the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award. He came in third last year, but with no Olympic heroes this time, it will surely be his name on the trophy, a sweet moment for him, finally getting the public’s approval which he so richly deserves.
So what next? Can he win it again? Can he win more grand slams and eventually rise to the coveted world no.1 rank? Right now all this seems highly likely, with John McEnroe predicting he will go on to win six or more slams by the time he hangs up his racquet. With Nadal creaking and Federer not quite the same as he once was, it will be between Murray, Djokovic, and perhaps Del Potro for the foreseeable future.
For British sport, this is a golden period to be cherished and celebrated, an era of world champion cyclists, rowers and athletes, Ryder Cup and major-winning golfers, not to mention a cricket team that has won back-to-back Ashes. It makes you wonder, is it all too good to be true? And how long will it last?
Right now, whatever may come, the nation and Murray himself must savour the moment. Now is not the time to worry about the state of tennis in Britain, the LTA or where the next Murray is going to come from. We must embrace this era, enjoy it, and just hope we don’t have to wait another 77 years for a repeat.
Image from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2013/jun/16/andy-murray-marin-cilic-queens-club
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