In the minds of tennis followers who saw Andy Murray defeating Richard Gasquet in an epic match at Wimbledon 2008, it was just a matter of time before Andy’s name would be inscribed on one or more of the 4 Grand Slam trophies. That very year he had been closer to fulfilling his dream when he reached the US Open final but could not topple Federer who was in no mood to lose successive Grand Slam finals after his loss to Nadal at Wimbledon. It has been a long wait ever since. Over 3 years gone and we saw 13 majors after that. Andy did reach the final of 2 more majors – Australian Open 2010 & 2011, but lost to Federer and Djokovic respectively.
It must be noted that ever since Marat Safin won 2005 Aus Open, all the majors barring one (2009 US Open- Del Potro) were shared between Federer, Nadal & Djokovic – is that the reason? Can Andy Murray not overcome those three ranked above him? He is up 8-7 head-to-head with Federer, he has beaten Nadal as well as Djokovic several times. So he has it in him but he has not really made it at the big stages. Still his ATP ranking points have not suffered much because of him winning the ATP1000 and ATP500 events on a regular basis. In 2012, he has the Olympics too to look forward to. It makes it even more special that it is being held in his home country. He has already made a statement that winning Olympics is bigger than winning his first Grand Slam. But I am not sure how honest Andy is, by making such a statement. Deep down in his heart he probably is craving for that first Grand Slam title more than anything else.
What is it that holds him back in majors? Let’s try deriving a clue by with a quick glance at the 2009 US Open – the one tournament which did not go to either of the top 3 players. What did Del Potro do that was special? He managed to beat the top 2 players in back-to-back matches. He was consistent against top class opponents over that fortnight. For Andy to fulfill his dreams and our expectations, he must take some inspiration from that 2009 success of Delpotro and move ahead.
Over the past few major tournaments we have witnessed this – Andy Murray beats either one of the top 2 players, then stumbles against the other in the final hurdle. He is trying, but struggling to live up to the huge expectations of his fans. A constant pressure from the media and fans alike – “Can Murray be the first Englishman to win a Grand Slam since Fred Perry did in 1936?” ”Can Murray achieve what Henman toiled hard for, but in vain?” Things are not looking that bad as the media and fan’s outcry. He turns 24 this year and is far more mature in terms of tackling emotions.
Appointing Ivan Lendl as coach could not have come at a better time. A cool customer like Lendl can instill lot of positive attitude in Andy’s approach to his game. He has been there and done that many a times. His guidance and directives will be of immense value for Andy’s career, especially on clay and hard courts. Andy will look forward to taking his career to new heights under the ex-world No.1 and and 8 time Grand Slam winner. Lendl himself at age 24 did not have a Grand Slam trophy under his belt, until Tony Roche picked him under his wings. Will he pull off the same magic with Andy? Already there are signs of Andy looking more aggressive which could be the first thing Lendl might have asked from him. Lendl being a no-nonsense man will be after him to produce the best out of Andy’s natural athleticism and inborn talent. If that happens, in the near future we will see a Grand Slam champion other than Djokovic, Nadal or Federer. Given the form they are in, it is not as easy a task as making a statement. Having said that, I am being tempted here to predict Andy Murray winning at least one of the 3 Grand slams remaining in the 2012 season.
All the best Andy Murray!
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