Andy Murray – Australian Open 2010

Posted on February 7, 2010

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Andy Murray again excelled himself on the highest tennis stage, this time at the 2010 Australian open.  Murray’s form over the two weeks was spectacular, and, despite losing 6-3 6-4 7-6 (13-11) in the final to Roger Federer, he is surely getting ever closer to winning that elusive grand-slam title.

Criticism of his decision to partner Laura Robson in the Hopman Cup, rather than defend his Qatar Open title, proved unfounded as Murray swept his way through the field in Australia with relative ease, arriving in the final with only one set dropped. The last world-class tennis player to represent Britain was Tim Henman, a superb volleyer who possessed a fine grass-court game. However, Murray’s game is much better than Henman’s ever was, and, perhaps more significantly, Murray possesses a winning mentality, something Henman undoubtedly lacked and was ultimately responsible for his inability to win a major title. The reason Henman failed to win a grand-slam is because he didn’t believe he could. Murray on the other hand has a more determined attitude.

Amazingly, on the evidence of this tournament, Murray is still improving. His quarter-final and semi-final performances, where he beat Rafa Nadal and Marin Cillic, saw him reach a level of performance beyond anything he has managed before. Fantastic groundstrokes, one of the most varied game plans on tour and his ability to out-fox and out-fight opponents were all explicitly demonstrated en-route to the showdown with Federer in the final. In truth, the final was dominated by the world number one, but Murray can be proud in defeat. The fact of the matter is, like his previous grand-slam final appearance in New York 2008, Murray came up against the greatest player that has ever played the game who happened to be in sparkling form too. The Federer forehand is the most potent weapon on the tour, he varies his service direction with bamboozling effect and he moves around the court better than anyone. The fact that Federer’s back-hand, supposedly something of a weakness that can be exploited, was also on-song here meant that Murray could not get into the match until the third set, and it proved to be too late.

The first two sets were relatively straight forward for Federer, with Murray’s first serve percentage way too low. Murray picked up his service stats in the third but Federer still managed to win a pulsating tie-break and take the Australian Open title for a 4th time in his career. The Swiss player has now appeared in 23 consecutive grand-slam semi-finals. He holds the record for the most grand-slam victories in the history of tennis. This is a special player. The fact that his record 16 grand-slam titles have been accumulated over 27 tournaments, whereas Pete Sampras collected his 14 from 45, says everything about the talent and professionalism of Roger Federer.

Murray has risen to number 3 in the world on the back of this excellent showing and he is hot on the heels of Novak Djokovic who could only make the quarter-finals in Melbourne and looks less consistent than Murray. It will be tough to better 2009, where he was consistently excellent in Masters Series and tour events, but if Murray can win a grand-slam title he will do just that. When he does win one, he will become the first British player to achieve such a feat since Fred Perry at the US Open in 1936. I firmly believe that it is only a matter of time before he does. He is too talented and determined not to.

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Posted in: Tennis