For me, personally, it’s not hard to argue the fact that Murray is Great Britain’s best sportsman currently. I’m biased, though, he’s produced in the sport I love so I’m going to say that but it has strong claims. To be top of the pops in tennis right now is no mean feat, it requires both lightning speed and endurance. Murray is basically the prime athlete these days and let’s not forget he has to play tennis to an almost unreal standard on top of this and quite regularly does, he’s a fantastic shotmaker. I also love the fact that when he’s on court he’s just himself. The swearing, the moaning, the passion, I can relate to all of them when it comes to my job and let’s be honest I love someone cussing out on court and berating themselves, it’s entertaining! He’s not on the court to win people over, he’s there to win and importantly, win within the rules he does. I think my behaviour if I was to be playing regularly now would be the same! He just wears his heart on his sleeve on court and there is nothing wrong with that. Fist pumping and a loud ”COME ON” or “Let’s go Andy” are the norm. Spot on, just as it should be. Personally, I think he has his balance right. Tennis is by and large an individual sport and I think there should be an element within the game of ‘fuck what people think’. He is seen as anything but unsportsmanlike and that’s what it should be about. Thankfully he has the aura of a champion to polish him off today.
Anyway, we should address the matter of those comments made about the England football team. Firstly he was bantering with Henman about it and the comments were said off the cuff. Secondly, he was 19 at the time and still learning his trade with the media and lastly get the fuck over it! You have to expect him to be patriotic towards Scotland…..he’s Scottish, get the picture?? I don’t think there is any more to it than that. Don’t be a hater as they say!
There is definitely still a section of people who don’t and can’t have the Scotsman. I think they will always be like this, if you haven’t changed your mind by now it’s difficult to see what it would actually require to do this. Leopards and spots spring to mind and there is little point trying to attempt to argue with these people, their minds are made up. For someone who has been following tennis fanatically since 1995, there was a time when having a successful British tennis player seemed a million miles away. Henman (and Greg to a certain extent) broke down the initial barriers and put us back on the map, Murray has elevated us back to being a force, as the Davis Cup victory would suggest! The initial problem people had with Murray was that he was too loud and ‘one of the new era’, others didn’t like him because he was Scottish and that’s straight. I certainly don’t have a problem with his heritage so that was never a factor for me. Taking over the baton from Tim was more of a concern and issue for me, but I soon realised just how good this lad was like most did. He had a variety of shots at his disposal and could mix up his play very intelligently with slice and topspin, confusing his opponents!
P.S, he has absolutely buried Dominic Inglot here!!
When you look at his career I believe he has certainly learned and still is learning from his mistakes, the recent losses to Nishikori and Zverev will stand testament to this. With coaches, he has made the right appointments for the stage of his career and been ruthless in getting rid of them if necessary. No silly scheduling plans for Muzza either, none of that! Learning from his losses in big finals and, very importantly, ensuring that he is more the aggressor in a point have obviously helped the transformation, both down to himself. Muzza is a grafter as well, plenty of hours have been spent on the court and in the gym to reach his goals. The days of The Thomas Johansson and David Nalbandian cramping incidents were early and harsh lessons about the physical demands of the game. Look at him now, he’s RIPPED!!! Muzza though has undoubtedly made the right decisions for his career, the talent was always there and he always seemed to be in the zone for a big match from a young age. The only criticism was that he was too passive at times waiting for his opponent to make the mistake. That’s never the way to play in the upper echelons of the game and when this was rectified between himself and Lendl the holy grail was reached, the appointment of Lendl was a masterstroke.
We all know that reaching multiple grand slam finals is an achievement in its own right as are master series titles, but winning slams is what validates it all. Winning the Olympics gold medal at London 2012 was the catalyst that kicked it all off. Roared on by a partisan crowd against Federer, he blitzed the Fed-Ex on Centre Court, in stark contrast to weeks before against the same opponent at the same venue which resulted in a loss and tears. The latter warming him to some. I just felt sorry for him, I thought it was terrible he had made a Wimbledon final and about 80% of his home crowd were against him. The appointment of Lendl had bought up a lot of comparisons to their careers and like Lendl, Murray won his first grand slam final at the fifth attempt. Beating Djokovic at Flushing Meadows was nerve jangling as the match see-sawed from Murray having a two-set lead to Djokovic pinning him back to 2 sets all. He showed balls in the fifth as he did over the duration of the match, considering the high quality, punishing points that he had endured.
The win in America put him firmly on the map as a seriously top player, but that wasn’t going to be enough for the English/Britsih public, Wimbledon was a must otherwise there would always be reminders about the failure. Wimbledon 2013 was superb. After relatively routine straight sets wins over Becker, Lu, Robredo and Youzhny, Muzza found himself two sets down to Fernando Verdasco, it just wasn’t happening for him. However, you just felt that he would always find a way into the match even at two sets down against the Spaniard and so it proved. The same could be said about Jerzy Janowicz in the semi, despite dropping the opening set. You just knew that when Murray found his level it would be too much for the Pole as he edged him out in 4. The final against Djokovic was what’s it’s all about, though. This was a top performance. Yes, Djokovic had a brutal heat against Del Potro two days before, but many obstacles still needed passing. Muzza was tactically spot on that day, keeping the points long and physical. Djokovic was drained by the end, Murray and the crowd were all far too much for him. It’s clear by the reaction of most that he won a fair few people over during this period, hardly surprising I suppose! Winning the title for the second time last year consolidated his legacy as did a second singles gold in Rio. Jo-Wilfred was the only player to cause him any problems and nearly succeeded, but once this code was cracked he put in a champion’s performance against Milos Raonic in the final. An Ozzy and a French title would be nice before retirement, so he’s got the full set. Neither are out of the question obviously, that would be one hell of a legacy to leave behind.
He should without question be celebrated and decorated in the meantime, as they say, you don’t know what you’ve lost till its gone. He’s a dedicated pro,that doesn’t come easy to everyone. Watch and admire! Go on Muzza lad!!!
Andy Del Potro