Andy Murray goes for double Olympic gold and the chance to avenge his defeat to Roger Federer in last month’s Wimbledon final.
Every June tennis commentators ponder the pressure British players must endure on the lawns of SW19. The mania of a partisan crowd; comfort or curse? Players speak of “channelling the energy” while critics blame the face-painted masses for inflating false hopes, writes Anna Doble at Wimbledon.
Representing Great Britain in the Olympics, Andy Murray seems to have found a sweet spot somewhere between being a solo star and a team player; somewhere between “being Scottish” and “being British”. The colour scheme is working; the blue and white of the Scottish saltire interlocked with the union flag.
“I think in terms of just enjoyment, it’s probably the most fun I’ve had at a tennis tournament,” said Murray after his semi-final victory against Novak Djokovic.
“It was one of the biggest wins of my career. I haven’t stopped smiling since I came off the court.”
Murray’s 7-5 7-5 triumph was all the more exhilarating because of its pace and fizz. The crash, bang, wallop of the second men’s semi-final followed the marathon three-part series of the first.
For all its epic drama, Roger Federer’s dogged four-hour battle against Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro (19-17 in the final set) had put the Centre Court crowd into a Pimms coma. Murray and Djokovic arrived like the paramedics to apply the electric shocks; the crowd roared and Murray responded with a pulsating display of power and accuracy to dismiss a man with five grand slams in his trophy cabinet.
Read more: Watching with Murray
“It was one of the most emotional I’ve been after a match, so happy to win, said Murray. “You don’t see me smiling that much normally. I haven’t stopped smiling since I came off the court.”
Murray followed up his singles win with two close victories in the mixed doubles alongside playing partner Laura Robson, setting up two Wimbledon finals in a day.
First comes another best-of-five sets clash against Roger Federer, less than a month since Swiss hypnotics sapped Murray’s energy in the Wimbledon final. Murray says he “quicky got over” that defeat, with support from his coach Ivan Lendl.
One crucial factor is the weather. Federer will benefit again if the Centre Court roof comes into play, allowing him to go for the lines with greater ferocity. Increasingly the patriot, Murray prefers the erratic input of the great British weather; using gusts of wind to help not hinder his tactics.
Either way, it will be the ultimate moment to exorcise demons – and sport rarely presents second chances. Murray’s dominant form is no fluke. He is no longer waiting in line behind Federer, Nadal and Djokovic at the top table of world tennis.
And if Murray can repeat the pyrotechnics of his win against Djokovic, this time the final fireworks could be red, white and blue.
02 August 2012
04 August 2012