By Tom Allnutt
In this message to Andy Murray Full Contacts TomTom columnists say Murray must ignore the sob-stories and remember the forgotten final.
Balls to the stats erase them from your memory, scrub all the inadequacies, everyone makes mistakes and hell to the score, who was really counting anyway?
Andy Murray will definitely win a grand slam, he just needs a bit of luck, he’s more than good enough, even Roger said so and he should know, he’s won 17 of the things.
Not since Paul Gascoigne dried his eyes in his shirt at Italia 90 have English affections and judgements been more swiftly forged by the sight of a sniffling sportsman.
As the country’s gaze fixed on Murray catching his breath and clenching his eyelids, everything in the background became a blur, just insignificant details – the court, the scoreboard, the winner.
This was the protagonist’s closing soliloquy and his audience were not to be distracted.
The effect was instant and hypnotic.
Seconds later Roger Federer, the forgotten champion, found himself compelled to confirm not only that Murray is indeed good enough but to promise he would one day win ‘at least one grand slam’.
Commentators, experts and former winners found their usually composed and well-formulated opinions leaping to irrational conclusions that for better weather, better timing, better luck the title would have been Andy Murray’s.
And then journalists, swept up in the twister of tissue-grabbing emotion, wrote of how Murray was playing the greatest tennis player of all time, that he was therefore a loser only in the date of his birthday and that we could all, despite the match, the score and the engraving on the Wimbledon honours board, call our Andy ‘a winner’.
But this wasn’t how it happened.
Rewind your sky plus to before Andy Murray grabs the microphone and airbrushes the perception of sporting history and you’ll see Federer won this match in four sets, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.
Ignore the brainwashed radio bulletins branding this a classic final – there were no dramatic tie-breaks, no nail-biting fifth set, there was even enough time for a couple of doubles matches to be played afterwards.
It would be unfair to call it straight forward but make no bones about it, this was a comfortable victory for Federer.
Andy Murray played well, better than he has ever played before in a final, but the hard truth is if he is to ever go one step further he needs to ignore the blurry eyed, revisionist view of the final that never was.
Andy Murray can’t afford to believe he is good enough as he is, he can’t afford to believe it was all bad weather, bad timing, bad luck and he can’t afford to believe that he’ll just turn up one day, everything will fall into place and he’ll stumble upon the grand slam that everyone said he deserved all along.
Sport is often at its best in moments of raw emotion but sport is also pragmatic, it moves on quickly and Andy Murray must too.
Murray isn’t yet good enough to win a grand slam.
If they had played exactly the same number of games at Wimbledon Murray would have made 40 less winners than Federer and 65 less than Djokovic. He needs to be more aggressive from the back of the court and more courageous on the big points.
Across the tournament Murray’s first serve went in 5% less than Federer’s and 6% less than Djokovic’s. And when their first serves did go in Murray won the least number of points out of the three. Andy Murray needs to improve both the consistency and potency of his first serve making it a more reliable and decisive weapon.
Murray isn’t a victim of bad luck, bad timing or bad weather either.
With Nadal gone, he had the easiest route to the final of the three. Credit is due for dispatching the challenges of Baghdatis, Cilic, Ferrer and Tsonga along the way but that in itself doesn’t amount to progress.
The fact is Murray made the final at Wimbledon but to get there he didn’t do anything he hasn’t done before.
And dispel the myth that Andy Murray is a champion suppressed by a golden era of tennis’ greatest ever champions.
Federer, Nadal and Djokovic may well form the most talented triumvirate tennis has ever seen but fierce competition at the top is the default not the exception to the rule.
A comedian who tells jokes that would have been funny in the 80s can’t claim to be a good comedian. Ivanisevic was the lucky one, Andy Murray is the norm.
But the most important thing to come out of all this is not that Britain now likes Andy Murray or thinks he’s a rather good tennis player. The most important thing is that Murray being Murray won’t believe a word of it.
Because Murray is a winner. Not the kind of pitied, hard luck son, pat on the back winner that experts say he is, not the proud, teary-eyed, you gave it your all type winner tennis fans say he is and not even the unlucky, grand-slam deserving winner Federer says he is.
Andy Murray is a winner precisely because he doesn’t believe in any of that, because he believes only in winning.
Murray has the stubborn, single-minded mentality that refuses to accept runner-up, believe commonly-accepted excuses, or indulge in revisionist versions of failure.
Murray will look at the hard facts. He will accept he lost because his first serve wasn’t good enough and he didn’t hit enough winners – all the rest is just sniffles and fiction.
Whilst Britain dries its eyes in the back pages then, Murray will be on the practice court refining the details, rectifying the weaknesses and redirecting the history books towards better days.
That’s why Murray’s a winner and why one day he may well become a champion.
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I'm a recently qualified journalist and I've worked in newspapers and broadcasting. I'm a dedicated follower of all sports primarily football, tennis and cricket.
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