If you follow tennis at all, you will know that Andy Murray was elimited from Wimbledon in the semi-final by a rejuvinated looking Andy Roddick. They both played well but I think in the end it came down to who could win the big points and get the lucky breaks, and on this occasion that turned out to be Roddick. I think a lot of it came down to Roddick’s tactics. It seemed pretty clear to me at least that he was playing much more cautiously than normal and was maybe trying to copy Murray’s own gameplan of keeping the ball in play and occasionally throwing in a big shot, and it worked.
When you look at the replay of the match, you’ll notice that the match could really have gone either way. The first set was decided on the first break point of the match, taken by Roddick at 5-4 up. In the second set, Andy got the quick break in the first game and went on to hold his serve to close that one out.
In the third set and I think the fourth, Murray had break points on the Roddick serve. In the 3rd set especially, he had him at 0-40 twice but only broke once. The time he broke was when Roddick was serving for the set which shows Murray’s character a lot. In the tiebreak it was close and Murray had at least one set point, but Roddick hit a lucky volley to save it. His serve was so consistently good though that he had few chances to get mini-breaks and eventually lost it by only a couple of points. If he had taken the other game where he had 3 break points, he would have won the set.
In the fourth set it was competitive all the way through. I’m not sure, but I’m fairly certain serve was held all the way through to the tie-break, but Murray did have a break point at 4-3 in that 4th set which he couldn’t convert. Roddick held to take it to 4-all and subsiquently, a second tie-break. The tie break saw Roddick break first but Murray eventually got it back with a huge passing shot at match point. He got the tie-break back on serve but then hit a cross-court pass into the net while Roddick was approaching the net to give the match away on his own serve.
Now that I’ve read the play by play of the match and watched highlights again after watching the whole match earlier, I have to say that it really could have gone either way. It’s no exaggeration to say so. If Andy had taken those 3 break points at the beginning of the 3rd set he would have probably won it. If Roddick hadn’t had that lucky volley to save set point in that 3rd set tie-break he would have taken the set too.
The same could be said of the fourth. If murray had taken that break point opportunity in the 8th game of that set, he could have potentially held serve and won that set and possibly even the match in 4 sets. Or at least taken it to 5 sets where anything could have happened. So yeah he really didin’t get the breaks today but he had a great tournament overall. No one can criticise him for his effort and commitment or call it another British failure, because that’s so far from the truth.
ESPN don’t report things fairly
Before I go on and get to the main point of this post, I just want to say that I saw a recap of the match on ESPN and honestly, they went into absolutely no detail whatsoever. The old guy also said that Roddick “beat him up” and that “there was nothing left of Andy Murray at the end”. I don’t know whether he was trying to spice it up to make it sound more exciting and like a boxing match (it already is exciting and it’s kind of ironic that Andy is a boxing fan) or he’s just an old cook with no idea what he’s talking about, but whatever.
Individual Sport and the British pride and huge expectations
The main point of this post though was to say that the way British people act and expect so much has to change for the good of the game, and not just tennis, of lots of sports such as international football.
When all the British players except Andy were eliminated in the first or second rounds, people acted like it was a national disaster, like it was so unexpected. However, these players (especially the women) have improved their ranking, and even if they had got through the opening rounds, it’s very unlikely they would have won, so why should they deal with that pressure? Why should any of them have to deal with it including Andy? They shouldn’t.
Stats like how long it’s been since there was a British men’s champion is not going to help anyone. The attitude should be to enjoy this wonderful tennis event that’s held in this country for all the great players, and for all the great tennis that will be played during the two weeks, not totally focused on one person just because he or she (in this case he) is from Britain.
Like I say in the title of this post, tennis is an individual sport, except for davis cup, and players like Andy should be able to use the home venue as an advantage, which it is in terms of the crowd, but their level of expectation takes away from the advantage which is probably why he has got to a US Open final and not a Wimbledon one, plus obviously the fact that Roddick executed his gameplan perfectly on this occasion.
It’s not even got anything to do with the fact that Andy had a legitimate chance to win, he is the number 3 in the world after all. But regardless, people need to just let him play. I definitely was hopeful of him winning, but I knew that this is tennis, and it’s tough. He could have lost in the first round to Kendrick, or to Wawrinka easily, so you just have to be prepared for shocks. They happen all the time in tennis (except to Roger Federer seemingly) and pretty much every sport. Such is the depth and talent of professional tennis.
Summary and future talent possibilities
So in conclusion, US TV doesn’t get it and British people and media need to just focus on enjoying tennis rather than being so obsessed with this drought of british winners and pinning all their hopes on one person. Enjoy the tennis of every player and the event in general. You would be doing the UK players a great service by leaving them alone more.
Too bad virtually no one will change at all. Oh and another reason why there isn’t much talent coming up not just in this country but virtually everywhere, might have something to do with ridiculously high saleries in other sports like football for example. This makes tennis far less appealing. Maybe also the fact that in singles you’re really out there on your own, plus the fact that any kids coming up know that they will also be subjected to the crap the current crop have to deal with. Laura Robson is going to probably end up being Andy’s equivilent in the Womens’ game. I hope she can deal with it well but regardless she looks like she has the potential to be a great player. Her serve is amazing. It looks like the female version of Roger Federer’s which looks so fluid and relaxed. This is misleading for both because they both can hit their spots and dominate on serve.
Anyway thanks for reading and enjoy the weekend of finals.
edit: I wrote so much that I decided to add subheadings to the post to make it easier to read.