Monday, 5 September 2016

Andy Murray: From most consistent to most unbelievable

His 2016 season started in the similar fashion as 2015. A heartbreaking final loss at the Australian Open to the same man – the World No.1 Novak Djokovic. It was the 5th time he lost the final in Melbourne. Next up was Davis Cup, Murray’s top priority, if not the top-most. He beat Kei Nishikori in a grueling five-setter. Third-round losses to Federico Delbonis (Indian Wells) and Grigor Dimitrov (Miami) hurt him even more. But the Scot’s determination is second to none. His Monte Carlo campaign ended in a Semi-final loss to Rafael Nadal, who eventually went on to claim the title. Next up was Madrid with Murray being the defending champion. By reaching the final only, the Scot created history, achieving a feat which never had been done before. He became the only player to beat Nadal at the same event in consecutive years. But who else than Djokovic could be the hurdle in the final. The Scot once again lost the final, but not hope, surely.

The Scot’s win-loss record for the season (50-7) is second to only Novak Djokovic’s 51-5

2015 saw Murray withdrawing from Rome Masters, citing fatigue due to his exploits in Munich and Madrid, but it wasn’t replicated this time. More inspired than ever, The Scot defied all odds to reach the final without losing a set. The final saw Murray celebrating his 29th birthday by lifting his first trophy of the season and beating the defending champ Djokovic in straight sets.

The French Open didn’t start the way any Murray fan would have wanted. In the first round, he was pushed to 5 sets by Radek Stepanek and in the 2nd round by Mathias Bourgue, a wildcard. By stunning the defending champion Wawrinka in the semis, he set up a mouth-watering finale with Djokovic. By taking the first set and earning break opportunities at the start of the second, he was very much in line for his first Roland Garros title. But tired legs and Djokovic’s baseline precision didn’t help his cause. “Losing French Open really sucks”, stated Murray, disappointed by the loss but was focused for the grass-court swing. Murray defended his Queen’s Club title by beating Milos Raonic in the final, coming from a set and a break down. With Djokovic’s exit from Wimbledon in the third round, the draw tore wide open and Murray’s chances doubled. Also, with Federer ousted in the semis, Murray’s self-belief found a new level. He dismissed Tomas Berdych 6-3,6-3,6-3 to setup Raonic final. In the final, Murray counter-punched Raonic’s powerful serving and baseline game and beat the Canadian in straight sets.

A third slam title proved to be a mental boost for the Scot. He withdrew from Rogers Cup, sacrificing his defender points to recharge himself for the Rio Olympics. Beating 2012 Bronze-medalist Juan Martin Del Potro in the final, the Scot created history, becoming the only male tennis player to win 2 singles gold medals. Social Media, including fellow athletes, expressed their feelings with an outpour of appreciation for the Scot. With inspiration and motivation sky-high, the Scot entered Western and Southern Open as the No.1 seed, after Djokovic’s withdrawal due to injury. Once again, he defied mental and physical exhaustion to reach the final without dropping a set, beating Milos Raonic once again in the semis. In the final, though, Murray’s fairytale run ended with a straight-sets loss to Marin Cilic, ending his career-best 22-match winning streak. With his head high, Murray left Cincinnati, proud of whatever he has achieved in the last few months. With Djokovic’s form and fitness not 100% and Murray’s dream run continuing and the rankings gap shrinking, it’s time for Murray to emerge from the shadows of his fellow athletes, mainly the other 3 members of the so-called Big Four. Djokovic has US Open, Shanghai, Paris, Beijing titles to defend. Murray hardly has anything to defend in New York. Big Apple offers an incredible chance to Murray to lessen the gap even furthermore.

Djokovic could once again be the favorite but Murray is red-hot going into the tournament. A Murray-Djokovic final is on the cards. Hopefully, this time, Murray can finally get the better of the World No 1.

Written by Mayank Sharma
A third year Engineering student at Delhi Technological University. An avid tennis fan and a die hard fan of Roger Federer. Loves writing articles on Tennis and developing Web pages.

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