A parable on Andy Murray's triumph at Wimbledon
It’s all left for Murray to maul.
If sport has taught us anything, it’s that any man, no matter how invincible, can be defeated. Testing the physical reality of this statement in the world, Nadal changed the dynamics of world tennis with a match on the hallowed grass of Wimbledon that will be talked for decades. His win over Roger Federer in 2008 broke a spell of dominance unlike anything tennis had had the privilege to see. Novak Djokovic broke the duopoly of Fedal in 2011 to usher in a new leading man for tennis to behold.
During all this time, there was a Knight-like Scot lurking in the shadows of these giants. He had reached three Slam finals, and had fallen each time. He had reached even more semi-finals, but the tag of a Slam winner thwarted him. Andy Murray had the game. He had the weapons. He even had the fitness. Was it just luck that was playing the spoiler?
At the end of 2011, Murray dialed the number of a man whose stern face would make grown men wish to use the restroom on court. Enter Ivan Lendl. He won pretty much everything there was to win during his time. He left tennis because he pretty much had nothing left to achieve.
There was only one trophy that was left in his cabinet. Unfortunately for Lendl, that was the very crown jewel every tennis player who holds a racket wishes to end his career with. The Wimbledon crown. Lendl had once been asked about his feelings for grass, which seemed to dislike him only in the finals- where he lost twice. He had replied saying, “I have a very good game on grass, it’s called golf.”
With Lendl’s regimented training and routine, that has been described by sports physicians as one of the most brutal in the world, Murray set out in 2012 to conquer the elusive Slam.
He made the British empire’s heart stop en-route to the Wimbledon Final. A vintage Federer stopped him. Two months later, Murray had his day. He edged Novak Djokovic in a five-set master-class to take home his first Grand Slam.
At this year’s annual fortnight at the All England Club, Murray was an overwhelming favourite. Why wouldn’t he be. An entire nation was behind him. They were as hungry as he was.
The Murray in this final was different. His foe was the same as at Flushing Meadows. The court was the same. But his attitude was entirely different. This time, he attacked fearlessly.
Murray is by far the best counter-puncher in the game right now. What does that mean? It means speed is to him what spinach is to Popeye. He has this unique ability to stand behind the baseline and raise his racquet in this smooth semi-circular action, like a Samurai wielding a Katana.
He shifts just a little bit, makes a minute adjustment in has stance and then hits the ball with a pure crack. When tennis players hit the ball at the centre of the racquet, at this little spot we call the sweet spot, the feeling is almost orgasmic. It sends a wave of contentment through the forearm. Murray does this effortlessly. He hits the ball as easily as a hot knife slides through butter.
His backhand is by far, the best timed in the game right now. It just goes to the spot he wills it to, without the need to take any extra effort.
Murray’s victory was well deserved. If his triumph at Flushing Meadows gave him the boost of confidence, his triumph at Wimbledon is sure to have cemented it.
People adorning the third page of newspapers hailing from all over the world have lauded his efforts. He’s had champagne with the Prime Minister, and there’s a certainty that one would have to add the prefix of ‘Sir’ to his name in a few years.
Andy Murray has truly walked with crowds, kept his virtue and met kings, yet kept his common touch. The courts are his to clean now, and it would be a fitting end to this glorious era of the late noughties if Murray finishes it on his terms.