2012 saw the emergence of Andy Murray as one of the true contenders in the world of tennis. He shrugged off the image that many British sportsmen and women seem to acquire of being ‘chokers’ in the big matches and proved many, many people wrong.
At the start of the year many British tennis fans weren’t keen on Murray, the man who never showed any emotion and classed himself as Scottish rather than British. There were even those who wanted him to lose in the Wimbledon final to Roger Federer. Unwittingly, this loss is what led Murray to becoming the dominant and much-loved player he now is. It spurred him on to prove to that he should be recognised amongst the greats of the game.
The year started solidly for Murray, winning the Brisbane International, his 22nd career title, to set himself up for the Australian Open. He played well throughout the tournament, but was unable to stop the rampant Novak Djokovic in the semi-final despite his best efforts. The rise of Djokovic to the top of the men’s game was another setback for Andy Murray – not only did he have to overcome Nadal and Federer in order to win titles, he now also had the Serb ahead of him. At this point it looked as though Murray may never win a Grand Slam with such fierce competition ahead of him in what many called the greatest tennis era of all time.
The defeat certainly looked to have had an effect on the Scot as he drastically lost form in the run-up to Wimbledon, failing to reach the semi-finals in any of the 4 major tournaments he played after and being knocked out by David Ferrer in the quarters of the French Open at Roland Garros. Questions were now being asked of Murray – would he ever win a Grand Slam? Was he good enough to win one in the first place? Is his mum holding him back? What about his temperament? But, although he didn’t win Wimbledon, his performances answered all these questions in a way we would never have expected.
His troubles, however, started even before the tournament began with him having to have an injection to help cure the back spasms that caused him so much pain in France. His start to the tournament was hard, having to come through 4-setters in both the second round and third round with no real fluency to his game, but it showed that Murray was prepared to slog it out to succeed. Indeed, his match against Marcos Baghdatis didn’t finish until 23:02, the latest a match has ever finished at Wimbledon. He then found his rhythm to force his way past Marin Cilic and Ferrer before out-classing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semis. He had already proved a large majority of his doubters wrong and was the first Brit to reach the final of Wimbledon since 1938, but could he go that one step further and win? Ultimately it wasn’t to be as Federer was just too good on the day, but his emotional interview after the match was yet another moment that made the critics re-evaluate their views. In the space of 1 tournament he had gone from being a ‘Scot with no emotions’ to being the sweetheart of the British public.
The timing of the Olympics was just perfect for Murray – it meant he had a stage to prove that the nation’s newfound love for him was deserved. Winning a gold medal on home-turf for Great Britain would have been the ultimate silencer for any remaining sceptics, and he didn’t just win – he outclassed everyone. He dropped 1 set throughout the whole of the Men’s Singles and obliterated Federer in the final. It was poetic justice for a man so unfairly disliked for so much of his playing career.
But still Murray was yet to win a Grand Slam with only the US Open left in the current season. Everything looked to be in his favour though – Nadal was injured, Djokovic was no longer at his imperious best and he knew he had the beating of Federer. Yet again his ascent through the competition wasn’t easy, having to overcome tough games against Feliciano Lopez, Cilic and Tomas Berdych. But these victories proved again he had the stomach for the fight and this finally came to fruition in the final, with a fantastically determined 5-set win against Djokovic. He finally had his first Slam, and boy did he deserve it.
2013 is full of promise for Murray – he now has the opportunity to create history at the upcoming Australian Open by becoming the first man to win his first 2 majors back-to-back and, with Nadal still crocked and Federer not getting any younger, the prospects for at least 1 more Open title this year look very promising. Watch this space, he’s not done yet!
Andy Murray, the man who not only fought tooth-and-nail for success, but to win the hearts of the nation. And he did it in style.