Another Page in History
“Great Moments, are born from Great Opportunities”
As the clock strikes two in the afternoon in London tomorrow, Andy Murray will play the biggest match of his stellar career so far, a match that if he wins, will change everything. With such encompassing love for sport, British tennis loyalists have been looking forward to this moment from 1936, which was the last time when they had a men’s singles champion (Fred Perry).
For an island in northern Europe, Great Britain has time and again produced outstanding champions in Soccer, Formula One, and Rugby, and the sports mad society of Britain would prefer to add a tennis player to that very list tomorrow.
Murray almost always emphasizes that he wants to win the Wimbledon title for himself, but deep inside he knows there is a little more to it than that. You can almost expect an ambiance similar to that famous ‘People’s Monday’ final (Rafter V Ivanisevic, 2001) tomorrow. Royalty, soccer players and Hollywood will be in attendance, and as the clock ticks close to 2 PM, a certain fervent frenzy would hold in its unrelenting grasp – the crowd inside the cauldron of the most hallowed turf in the world. This is what Federer and Murray have trained for their entire life, this is why they run hills on Christmas eve, and it is for days like these they play the game. For those five odd hours tomorrow, you will witness a Davis Cup ambience. As much as the British crowd will try and be respectful of the ever famous six time champion, their pulse and hearts will probably always be pulling themselves in the other direction. It will remind Federer of the New York final he played in 2005, against Agassi in front an adoring and rambunctious crowd.
As they say right – “For the Love of the Game”.
Remember that speech by Kurt Russell in “Miracle”? It is always my most favorite speech in these occasions. Here it is.
It quite poignantly summarizes what Murray is up against tomorrow. We all know he can beat Federer and has he game to do it, but can he do it in front of an adoring home crowd in a grand slam final? Even with a positive head to head, he has never won a set off Federer; leave alone win a match against Federer in grand slams. In fact, he has never won a set in any of his three grand slam finals. But pressure exerts a unique dimension of stress on people, and that is where one hopes if someone less experienced (even, Djokovic) would serve Murray well, if they had reached the final.
Federer is going to feel the pressure, but let’s be honest – he has won and lost some of the biggest tennis matches in his distinguished career on this very same court. Once the umpire says “PLAY”, Federer is going to do just that without thinking about the world, pressure and British tennis fandom – “JUST PLAY”. Just hit the round yellow optic Wilson dawg !
I have never seen Federer play a bad first set in a grand slam final against anyone named, not Rafael Nadal. He almost will win the first set, and then it becomes a boxing match for Murray where he needs to absorb the pressure and somehow eek the second set out. Even Murray knows going two sets down against Federer is a very bad idea. The problem in Federer winning the first set is, it liberates him and relaxes him significantly – and he will then be able to display his complete repertoire of artistic elegance on a tennis court. It is incredibly difficult, but it is absolutely necessary to win the first set off him (something which Nadal does time and again).
Murray has to stay the course, and stay firm throughout the ebbs and flows in the match. If he has an open court with his forehand, he has to finish the point at will. Playing rope-a-dope with Federer is never a winning strategy, based on the fact that it neither worked in New York 2008, and Melbourne 2010. Ofcourse, Murray can only adapt his game towards a winning strategy, and cannot completely change it overnight, but he has to finish the points against Federer, and not prolong it for his cat and mouse entertainment purposes.
The problem with Federer is, at any point in the game he can elevate him to what I call as “Fed-Town”, where he red lines his engine, paints chalk at will and steals the set from right under your nose (ask Djokovic: 4-4 in the third set). Murray is almost sure to encounter a few trips from Federer, to “Fed-Town” tomorrow. Think about how unique Federer is, it is almost impossible to get back the number one ranking once you have lost it, and come Monday Federer can be world number one if he wins this match. It reinforces what I have always thought: “Nothing is Impossible for him, He is FEDERER”. If Federer wins tomorrow, it is inevitable he will go past Sampras and hold the number one ranking for the longest time in the history of our game.
When all the dust is settled, and the mechanics of the game are exhausted from our discussion,
The romantic in me wants to pick Murray in five, but the betting man in me picks Federer in four. Sixty two million ardent British fans would disagree with me, and I have never been happier to be proved wrong. Both Federer and Murray have their tryst with history on the morrow.
Another page will be turned …