Andy Murray’s Olympic Catch-22
August 2, 2012 · Print This Article
by: Lyra Pappin
Last time Andy Murray played at Wimbledon the montage to open his match told us that the Scot “toiled under the weight of Great Britain’s collective desire”. American television isn’t exactly known for its subtlety, but the London 2012 games have shown that the Brits aren’t interested in understatement either. While drama and tension are prime goals for the games, the UK is safely on board with 15 medals, so perhaps the “collective desire” has been slightly alleviated. Of course there’s still the personal desire of Murray, which should be raging on into his semi-final match against world number two, Novak Djokovic.
While a win for Murray would be terrific, if not surprising, how much will it mean for his legacy as a tennis player? Not enough, I’d argue. If Murray gets past Djokovic, he gives himself a shot at a gold medal, a shot that’s long at best. Plus, regardless of the outcome at the Olympics, the reality is that until Murray wins a major, there will always be an asterisk beside his name, even if he wins in London. Taking Olympic gold is a real feather in your cap, sure, but it would be endlessly noted that his path there was built on best of three matches, rather than best of five. The final is played as a best of five, but every betting man puts Roger Federer in that match, the “Greatest of All Time”, who is especially bent on proving his ongoing greatness these days, and not having much trouble doing it. With Olympic gold being the only remaining empty spot in the litany of achievements in Federer’s career, it seems like Murray would have to pry gold out of the Swiss champion’s dead cold hands before he gets to have his moment under the British sun.
Another intangible to consider: is it worse for Murray to lose back-to-back finals against Federer or for him to lose in the semi-final to Djokovic? Putting silver or bronze aside, the ongoing midgame that is men’s tennis puts me more in the camp that Murray thinking he can’t beat Federer when it counts is an enormous problem. The silver lining of not being the silver medalist might be that Murray wouldn’t face Federer in a heavy match again until the US Open, a tournament the Scot loves and one that suits his game.
It’s also a rather big assumption that Murray has an edge on Djokovic, going into this semi-final and their first meeting on grass. Djokovic has something to prove at Wimbledon, after he was prevented from defending his title a few weeks ago, being taken out by Federer. Djokovic’s remarkable consistency in 2011 has been MIA in 2012 and going all the way at the Olympics would deliver a much needed confidence boost. The chances of Djokovic beating Federer are greater than Murray beating Federer, as the Serbian is exceptionally motivated by playing for his country, as evidenced by his strong Davis Cup play, and the pride he took in winning with his compatriots last year.
Federer’s semi-final opponent Juan Martin Del Potro has not been mentioned; sometimes you say more by saying nothing at all, you know?
- Federer d. Del Potro in two (Confidence: 100%)
- Murray d. Djokovic in three (Confidence: 65%)
- Final: Federer d. Murray in three (Confidence 85%)
For more tennis talk, follow Lyra Pappin on Twitter at @lyrapappin.