Sunday, October 3, 2010

Andy Murray: One Small Step from Immortality

Not many people envy Andy Murray at the moment, but that will change in a heartbeat if he wins a Grand Slam.

He can do it. He can't do it. He's got to do it next year. He'll never do it next year.

Everybody has their own personal opinion on whether or not Andy Murray will eventually become the first player from Great Britain to win a Grand Slam since Fred Perry in 1936, but we can all agree on one thing: If he ever does it, he'll be set for life.

Think about it. Guys like Federer and Nadal spend their whole lives trying to collect Grand Slam hardware, but all Murray has to do is win one and he'll become an instant hero whose legend will more than likely never be tarnished.

The point that I'm trying to illustrate is that Andy Murray actually has a pretty good deal being a Brit. Really, he does. Most people feel sympathy for the strapping young British buck because he has had to deal with a ridiculous amount of media attention and scrutiny ever since it became obvious that he could be "the guy."

That's a fate I wouldn't wish on any young athlete, but the flip-side of the coin more than makes it worth while. Murray has been handed a very realistic challenge, and if he should succeed in fulfilling his promise (all we need is one Grand Slam, Andy) over the course of the next several years, he'll go down in tennis lore as the bona fide superman of British tennis.

Just one Slam, and the keys to the castle are yours, Mr. Murray. But if you should fall short, you'll forever be relegated to the back pages of those history books, in the index under "almost, but not quite."

There is no doubt that Murray's quest for glory has been somewhat hindered by fact that the media puts a target on his back each and every time he goes out to play a Slam. Professional tennis players thrive on challenges, and every time one of them faces Andy Murray in a Grand Slam, the media basically dares them to spoil the moment that a whole nation is loudly longing for. Guys like Stan Wawrinka are more than happy to go out and play inspired tennis to see if they can be the one to hit the target and make tennis' biggest headline for the day, and sometimes they do.

But can Andy Murray's string of failure in Grand Slams last forever, given the sheer and impressive amount of talent and moxie that the man possesses?

There is still the very undeniable fact that Murray has been to a Slam final in two of the last three years in spite of the madness that surrounds him (And a few Wimbledon semis to boot). And if you judge the 23-year-old by his words - press conferences in which he sounds genuinely patient and unperturbed by the expectations - he's getting better and better at ignoring the press and just doing what he does best on the court.

One point at a time, one game at a time, one match at a time, and one day, presto, we could all be watching Andy sipping tea with the Queen while paparazzi stumble over themselves to snap a picture below.

As difficult as it must be to concentrate on tennis with a media maelstrom tracking his every move, his every pending coaching decision and Playstation-induced breakup with his girlfriend, his every tweet and his every quip with the LTA, Andy Murray actually has an incredibly low bar to immortality in front of him.

He just needs ONE lousy Slam and he'll become a national hero for the rest of his life, even if he shows up at the next tournament fifty pounds overweight with a six-pack of Guinness by his chair where his bottle of energy water used to sit. Even if he dumps Kim Sears and tells the world that he's in love with his mom - none of it will matter.

Yes, it's that simple: For Murray, one Slam equals immortality. Meanwhile, geniuses like Federer and Nadal have to try and rack up as many Slams as possible in order for them to continue in this unwinnable quest for GOAT-ness. It's a never-ending treadmill that Murray will never have to deal with.

And perhaps, now that we are all expecting it a little less in 2011 than we were in 2010, things will fall into place for Murray, and he'll get it done.

He's given an awful lot of himself to this game, and it'd sure be nice if the gods of tennis gave a little something back to Andy, and to Great Britain for that matter. Just one Slam would be more than enough.


  1. Great article! I agree with most of what you say although I expect that if Murray does win just one Slam, he'll face the cry of "underachiever" if he does. I suspect in 2011, many, especially in the media, will go through "buyers remorse" after having touting Murray for so long, and may leave him alone or give him the mantle of "forgotten man" that Djokovic dealt with for the last few years. Maybe being considered "forgotten" will help Murray finally win his first major.

    The other factor in Murray's favor is his young age of 23 which means he will see the end of the Federer era. How he deals with Nadal, Delpo and even Berdych is another story, but I can't imagine him not winning Australia or New York at least once. Wimbledon might elude him. We'll just have to wait and see.

  2. I really liked your article, “Andy Murray: One Small Step from Immortality.”


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