Sunday, July 08, 2012

Wimbedon final - Murray delivers the goods

There are some players who appear to give everything they have irrespective of who they are up against. There are others who are boosted by worthy adversaries. Murray seems to firmly fall in the latter category. His opponent in the finals, a certain Mr Federer, was the ultimate adversary. When Murray played Tsonga in his previous game, he displayed occassions of strength and finesse but the quality of Murray's game at that point still wasn't quite enough to give Federer a good run for his money. Fortunately Murray upped his game for the final, rising to the occassion to deliver a highly memorable match. Losses are difficult to get over, with 'what-ifs' being asked for some time after the even, but this really was a match that our man can and should be proud of.

Every set in the match proved a pretty close cut affair. From the word go, Murrary started out blazing with a strong first serve and a surprisingly consistent aggressive return of Federer's first serve. Murray took the first set. But alas, this was not the Federer we knew. The second set was also going in Murray's favour until the last minute, when Federer pulled out a cheeky break of serve that no one was expecting, and walked away with the set. Murray started to falter for a little for a while thereafter. It wasn't a significant faltering, just a slight turning of the tide (listening to the commentators you would think that Murray was slumping, but it was far from the case - more a case of the commentary just chasing the winner). Then came the rain and the half hour delay while the roof was closed.

When Murray returned, his first serve was completely shot to pieces. Federer was getting stronger and moving faster. Next set to Federer.

2-1.

The first set was a consequence of Federer not being on top form, the second an evenly matched affair, and the third a product of Federer finding form while Murray stumbled a little.

The next and final set also went to Federer (3-1) but with only one break of serve. It was akin to the second set in that both players were on fire. Murray almost gave as good as he got in these sets. Just as important as his shots was his mental state; he displayed great fortitude when faced with perfection, a balletic tenis-racquet wielding nemesis with no weaknesses, no way in. His frustrations were visible, however they were not related to external factors but to his a dissatisfaction with his own performance, when he was falling just shy of what he was possibly of achieving and an awareness that when you are up against Federer, it only takes a few mistakes and it's all over.

If ever there was a right way to lose, it was displayed this evening by a player that so much of the British public seemed non-plussed about. The way I saw things from the outset, I only gave Murray a 5% chance of winning. The only real question was how the loss would come about and how it would be handled by Murray: It came about at the margins with Murray throwing everything he had available at Federer - every last breath - and it was handled with a level of maturity that I have rarely seen from Murray. With such a valiant performance, I hope Murray can come away from this with his head held high. Afterall, what is sport but a game and what else can you give other than your best performance (displaying your best skill and your best character).

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