Tennis Elbow: Now what?
September 17, 2012 · Print This Article
Welcome to Tennis Elbow, a new column that will look back at the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon wonders what the first Grand Slam title of Andy Murray’s career will mean, for the player and for others.
Andy Murray isn’t Andy Murray anymore.
That’s probably why Ivan Lendl smiled after his pupil won the first Grand Slam title of his career. Indeed, after 4 hours and 54 minutes of play, after Murray had incredibly outlasted Novak Djokovic, Lendl was smiling–really, that’s what Murray said after the match. “I think that might have been a smile,” he told CBS’s Mary Carillo after his victory.
Even I was smiling, despite my supporting Djokovic because this US Open final was one that anybody should have felt blessed to witness. But I smile often and easily while Lendl doesn’t–although where Murray saw a smile, most probably saw Lendl’s typically dull expression.
For now, let’s stick to Murray. What’s next for him? On September 10, the 25-year-old became the first British man to win a Grand Slam tournament since Fred Perry in 1936. First, this win is important in the manner that it was obtained. Murray probably would have liked to win in straight sets, but in the first two sets, he played a little too passive and waited out Djokovic. If it worked, it was mostly because of the Serb’s poor play. You can’t lose for winning, except that had it continued maybe Murray would have.
Ultimately, Murray won because he dominated the fifth set and because he held nothing back when the stakes were at their highest. Ultimately, Murray won because he didn’t play like he usually had in previous Grand Slam finals.
Beyond that, this match at Flushing Meadows means different things for different people.
For the first time since 2003, four different players won the four coveted prizes of the 2012 season. Yet, this doesn’t mean that men’s tennis is entering a new era–there still is only one player, Juan Martin Del Potro, outside of the top 4 that has ever won a Grand Slam title. The ATP World Tour is still very much top heavy. The only difference is that Murray has ensured that the top trio is now a Mount Rushmore.
What’s next for Djokovic? He’ll take solace in the fact that he was this close to winning despite the wind and despite playing so bad.
Djokovic will rebound from the brutal loss, because that’s what he’s accustomed us to in the past two seasons. The tough conditions hurt him against Murray because his game, possibly more than anybody else on Tour, is so dependent on precision and calculated risks–Djokovic is methodical and will always look to paint the lines but against Murray, he couldn’t. It flustered him, at least at first, and at no point in two years had he looked this human. But Djokovic didn’t make any excuses. “(Murray) deserved to win this Grand Slam more than anybody,” he said after the match, “because over the years, he’s been a top player.”
For Lendl finally, this win means that he gets to say, “I told you so.” When the coach teamed up with Murray at the beginning of the season, there was only one outcome that could make this pairing a success–a Grand Slam title for Murray, just one, anywhere. And at the last possible place where this could happen, well, it did.
Now that Murray has captured the final Grand Slam of the season, the Brit is perhaps the current best player on Tour. At the very least, there’s nobody playing as well as he is. He’s a new Andy Murray.
Look what you’ve done, Lendl. He knows precisely what he’s done, and that’s why he (sort of) smiled.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @CeeeBG