Written by: Michael Emmett
***Michael Emmett is the Director of Tennis Operations at all Mayfair clubs. He is a certified Tennis Canada Coach 3 with a Journalism degree from the University of Texas. Michael spent several years working in sports television at TSN and Sportsnet. Michael is a former National champion who finished his last year of junior tennis ranked #1 in Canada. Michael has coached several National champions when he worked for the All-Canadian Academy at the National Tennis Centre at York University in the early 90s. Michael spent 2 years traveling the world playing the ATP tour satellite circuit as a member of the Molson National Team in 1985 and ’86.***
Remember the days when the tennis world was complaining that Andy Murray was included in the Big Four conversation? Many felt we were jumping the gun by adding another name to this prestigious club. How dare these tennis-know-it-alls do such a shameful thing? Most tennis purists insisted this super elite group should only consist of Nadal, Djokovic and Federer – keeping it at the Big Three. After all, it is ONLY about Grand Slams victories and Mr. Murray had only one notch on his belt (prior to Sunday) compared to Federer with 17, Nadal with 12 and Djokovic with 6. Murray didn’t belong in such esteemed company due to his knack for blowing championship finals with lackluster performances.
Well, the time has come for everybody to realize that Andy Murray is the most dominant player on the tour and that likely won’t change anytime soon. Murray has won 3 of the last 5 major events, however, he skipped one of them (Murray chose to rest his injured back and passed on the 2013 French Championships) – so in actuality he’s won 3 of the last 4 he’s entered.
After his heart wrenching, emotional speech on Centre Court at the conclusion of last year’s Wimbledon Championships, Mr. Murray has gone on a run that even Roger Federer would be proud of. He won the Olympic Gold Medal in August, The US Open in September, lost in the Australian Open Final in January, skipped the French and Sunday won his first Wimbledon title with relative ease over Novak Djokovic.
Prior to his victory over Djokovic in New York City – Murray was a brutal 0-4 in Grand Slam finals – winning just one set in four matches. Those days are history. Murray is now full of confidence in these all-or-nothing finals and he’s taking it to his opponents with no mercy.
Sunday, Djokovic was just a little off his game. Murray, who has made steady progress in the 18 months that Ivan Lendl has served as his coach, was more than game. Lendl lost his first four Grand Slam singles finals as well — then came back and won eight of 15 major finals. It seems as though Murray is on course for a similar run.
His 3-set demolition of Novak Djokovic – 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 – was a great illustration of the ‘new’ Murray. Coach Lendl has taken Andy’s game to new heights and the rest of the competitors will have to go back to the drawing board to catch up. Murray is constructing the points better, serving bombs, volleying more precisely, covering the court like never before, staying patient, not over reacting to negative situations and looking almost unbeatable. He seems to be in the perfect head space – and this is something we’ve always questioned about Andy Murray.
What has Lendl done that is so dramatic? He has instilled BELIEF in Murray. Case in point, in the quarter-final, Murray was trailing 2-sets to love against Fernando Verdasco. And without any panic, Murray quickly battled back and leveled the match before finally outlasting the overwhelmed Spaniard 7-5 in the fifth set. This is the seventh time he has come back from two sets to love down, the second most of any current ATP player on tour. Murray is a warrior who can never be counted out.
Murray is firing on all cylinders and if this keeps up he’ll be the odds on favorite to capture his second US Open later this September. Arguably, Murray is the title holder of the game’s two biggest trophies – the US Open & Wimbledon. A clear indication he’s the top player on the ATP tour at this moment. And Murray is fast closing in on that number one ranking – a great hard court season in North America and Murray will have the ranking to validate his status as the game’s best player. Speaking of rankings and the changing of the times – Roger Federer has dropped to a 10-year low falling to #5.
And the best part, for all those Murray supporters, is his game continues to improve and as a result he’s playing with more determination and resolve. He looks like he’s on another level and the rest of the players on tour are no doubt feeling it. This miracle run he’s on doesn’t look like it will end in the foreseeable future. Murray is looking like the world’s most dominant player on the faster surfaces – on clay his results have been less than stellar.
It has been 28,128 days since Fred Perry won his last of three consecutive Wimbledon titles, better than 40 million minutes. And now, you won’t be reading those obligatory stories that bear his name because a Brit finally has lifted the title in London again. The immense pressure has been taken away. Andy Murray is no longer the best player to never win a major – a moniker he dragged around for several years before winning in New York last summer. And now he doesn’t have to listen to Fred Perry’s name ringing in the back of his head (Perry is the last Brit to Wimbledon in 1936). Murray has no more weight to carry around, no more demons in his head, no more whispers about what could have been. Murray is the Wimbledon champion and no-one will ever take that away.