Murray comes of age | Pakistan Today

Murray comes of age

The summer of 2012 will go down in the history books of British sport as one to be remembered for years to come. Of course there were the London Games but then, for a nation which had waited for 76 years, there was finally a Grand Slam champion.
As he broke down in tears at Centre Court, following a disheartening loss to Federer at this year’s Wimbledon Championships, there was a distinct feeling of déjà vu. Not many, maybe not even Murray himself, could have anticipated the way events were to unfold in the weeks to come. But for the discerning tennis fan there were signs which foretold much —- the manner in which he competed, not only in that four-set final, but throughout the fortnight, showed that maybe the tide was beginning to turn.
Ever since his first appearance in the top 4 of men’s tennis in 2008, Murray has almost always flown under the radar, playing the supporting act to the “Big Three”. While there was no denying the immense talent that the canny Scot possessed, the tennis world was not quite prepared to rank him amongst the likes of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic, and rightly so. Despite his success in the relatively “smaller” tournaments (Murray had amassed a total of 22 ATP singles titles, which included 8 Masters Series titles prior to Wimbledon 2012), 4 runner-up finishes in Grand Slam finals, and multiple wins over the top 3 (Head to head records: 8-7 vs Federer, 5-13 vs Nadal, 5-8 vs Djokovic before this year’s Championships), a major title eluded the Scot.
Whether it was the pressure of the overbearing British media, the lack of an obvious weapon in Murray’s game, his frequent mental digressions during matches, his ungainly on-court demeanor or his physical liabilities, especially at the business end of grand slams, Murray could not break through. But all of that changed at this year’s summer Olympics. With a new coach, this time former world number 1, Ivan Lendl, on his side and a renewed sense of conviction, Murray went on to win the gold medal, becoming the first British champion in over 100 years. This, coupled with a silver medal in the mixed doubles with youngster Laura Robson, made for a truly successful Olympic campaign for the Brit. More so, it set the tone for greater things to come from the Scot this summer.
One of the obvious changes in Murray’s style of play was how frequent his aggression was. Whilst he is known for his amazing repertoire of shots and tireless defense, the Andy Murray at this year’s Olympics and later on, during the US Open, had much more venom and accuracy in his shot-making. The effects of Lendl’s influence on the Scot’s game were finally bearing fruit. He was getting more free points off of his first serve, and the quicker delivery paid dividends on the fast paced hard courts of Flushing Meadows. What was all the more surprising was his mental fortitude amidst the chaotic, windy conditions in New York this summer. It was Murray’s resilience and the fact that he adapted the best under such tough, blustery conditions, especially in his semi-final against Berdych and the final with Djokovic, that enabled him to lift his maiden career Grand Slam title.
History was made at this year’s US Open and the British press was not far from flaunting it. Murray was given a hero’s welcome back home in Dunblane, and deservedly so. As for the men’s circuit, Murray’s recent admission into the grand slam winner’s circle makes for a very intriguing dynamic. Ranked third behind word number 2 Novak Djokovic and number 1, Roger Federer, with injury sidelining the Spaniard Rafael Nadal, it will be interesting to see how the Scot fares in the upcoming indoor hard court season and later on at the Barclay’s year-end championships in London. For the time being, though, all of Britain can rejoice as their new favorite son has, finally, come of age.

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