Can Andy Murray win Wimbledon?
July 4, 2012 · Print This Article
Andy Murray can win Wimbledon if Andy Murray wins Wimbledon.
Murray needs to win to have the confidence to win. A catch-22, if you will. Often criticized for not having the head for the game, Murray’s constantly relegated to the role of perpetual runner up, increasingly in danger of becoming a never-was, as far as slams go. There’s also the added bonus of the cynical pressure from British media swirling around him, so thirsty for a UK winner after a 76-year drought from the Wimbledon trophy ceremony that the Murray mirage is making them delirious with expectations.
But can Murray close it out? Is it actually all in his head?
The confounding lack of success from Murray is the fact that his “lack of success” is pretty damn good. Last year, he became one of only seven players to make it to the semifinals of every slam in a year, he’s been in a few finals, and he’s won 22 ATP titles. He’s beaten Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and passes through weaker opponents easily, with few upsets marring his consistency, particularly on the hard courts he prefers. In spite of all of this, in spite of obvious, and well-respected talent, he’s not feared. He just doesn’t have the ability to get inside an opponent’s head, to beat players in the change room, as John McEnroe famously said of Federer in the heyday of his dominance. But what’s a guy to do? Unless you’re an up and coming hip hop artist, it’s hard to have swagger of a big shot when you simply aren’t a big shot.
In short: what Murray is missing is the threat factor. The Scot hasn’t won a slam, so how is he supposed to intimidate the top guys? He should ask Djokovic. In fact, Djokovic appeared to will his way to number one, with a superhuman Gumby-esque force, determined to prove his superiority on the courts not just to himself, but everyone. Tired of being the wallflower at the big dance Federer and Nadal were hosting year after year, slam after slam, Djoker decided to kick the door down and take the competition over, Pulp Fiction style.
Whether Murray’s got that in him is a terrific conundrum. There’s an irony to his plight, and to the criticism about his mental strength being the factor that holds him back; Murray’s not a stupid player, nor does he seem to lose focus or determination throughout the course of a match or a tournament. This, too, adds to the frustration of his unsatisfying finishes, as he doesn’t carry the calling cards of the typical loser. Where guys like Tomas Berdych and Juan Martin Del Potro seem to rely on strength and power and forego the whole tactics thing, Murray’s problem becomes overthinking, most notably, when he gets behind. He wears his frustrations openly and it became almost clinically crazy during the 2011 US Open, where you could hear more of Murray’s inner monologue berating the hell out of himself than the announcers trying to cut in with some play-by-play.
In fact, with all the pressures, criticisms, expectations and, frankly, bad luck, piled against him, it’s actually a testament to his talent that Murray’s been able to hang in the top four as long as he has. Murray didn’t have the luxury of cruising to the top of the rankings in a transitional period, as say when Andy Roddick rode his serve and little else to number one. Murray’s also had some extraordinarily challenging draws in every slam over the past year, his only break coming this year at Wimbledon, with Nadal’s early exit, an upset that will likely stand as the biggest of the season. And even with this so-called opportunity, take a look at the 2012 quarterfinals: Murray’s the only one playing anyone inside the top ten. Where Roger Federer gets 26-seed Mikhail Youzhny, Djokovic meets 31-seed Florian Mayer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga faces 27 Phillipp Kohlschreiber, Murray’s taking on, David Ferrer, the seven seed, who just beat him in the French Open quarterfinals.
Nobody’s interested in throwing the Scot a pity party; if he wants to win, he’s got to win. Djokovic found a way to make it happen and if Murray could translate his talent into a Wimbledon title, it would be spectacular, dare we say, inspiring. Murray’s in a unique position: he’s got the most to win, whereas Djokovic and Federer are dealing with what they have to lose, not just ATP points either, but a siphoning of the unbeatable air of a proven champion. A win at Wimbledon would be the ultimate non-choke and it would change Murray, and his future, forever. It’s a lot to ask for, to have this moment come at Wimbledon, under a suffocating storm that’s cracking with nerves and demands from an entire nation, but he’s got to know that if he can win a slam, any slam, he’ll surely win more. If he can’t, well, does anyone really care what the rest of his story is?
For more on Wimbledon, follow Lyra Pappin on Twitter at @lyrapappin.