The Season Of Andy Murray

From zero to hero

By Roger Childs

The Barclay's champion
The Barclay’s champion

In the 2014 ATP Barclays, in which the top eight men played, Murray had qualified as the eighth seed.

In a round-robin match he came up against arguably the greatest indoor player ever, Roger Federer.

The Swiss maestro led 6-0 5-0 with Murray on serve. To the great relief of the Scot he won that game, his only game, and avoided the worst tennis score possible, the double bagel.

Fast forward two years, and Murray beat Novak Djokovic 6-3, 6-4 in the Barclays final to retain his number one world ranking.

Could he knock the “Joker” off the top?

djokovic-with-trophyEarlier this year, Djokovic was undoubtedly the number one player.

He beat Murray easily in the Australian Open final which led Guardian reporter, Kevin Mitchell, to observe: We were left with a familiar impression: Djokovic does everything Murray does, only better.

At Roland Garros, The Serb again beat Murray in the final, but it was closer this time.

Some fine performance in earlier years

Andy Murray is Britain’s greatest player since the stylish Fred Perry won eight grand slams to dominate world tennis in the mid 1930s.

Wimbledon winner in 2013
Wimbledon winner in 2013

Murray has had some great results in recent years, but lacked the consistency to become number one. He also had to compete with probably three of the greatest players of all time: Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic.

Nevertheless he showed in 2012 and 2013 that he was closing in. The Scot

  • reached the 2012 final at Wimbledon, only to lose to Federer
  • won the gold medal at the London Olympics, getting his revenge against Federer
  • won the 2012 US Open, beating Djokovic, securing Britain’s first grand slam victory since 1936
  • was the runner-up in the 2013 Australian Open, losing to Djokovic.

Then in June 2013 he became the first British player to win the Wimbledon final since Fred Perry in 1936.

Unfortunately the need for back surgery meant that he played few tournaments in 2014. However, on his return to competitive tennis in 2015, there were more good results.

Murray was the beaten finalist in the 2015 Australian Open and led the British team to victory in the 2015 Davis Cup.

However 2016 turned out to be his best year ever.

Number two and closing on the Serb

murrayHaving been the beaten finalist in the first two grand slams this year, Murray was barking at the heels of the Serbian star, Novak Djokovic. With Wimbledon coming up in June could the Scot repeat his famous victory of 2013?

Much of the credit for Murray’s breakthrough results in 2012-2013, has been put down to the coaching of eight time grand slam winner Ivan Lendl. Lendl and Murray parted company in 2014, but in June this year the Czech was back and his influence has shown. Murray had had periodic problems with his temperament and on-court behaviour, and Lendl was able to improve his discipline and consistency.

Wimbledon 2016 saw some unexpected results in the run up to the final. Djokovic and Nadal went out before the semi-finals and Federer, who was back after a knee injury but short on match play, surprisingly made the semis. However he was beaten by the big serving Canadian Milos Raonic and the latter was into his first grand slam final.

Murray prevailed in a hard fought match and won his second Wimbledon title and third grand slam: 6-4 7-6 7-6.

On to the Rio Olympics and world number one Djokovic was beaten in the first round by Juan Martin del Potro. The Argentine who has been a US Open winner, is on the comeback trail and made it through to the Olympic final with Murray.

It was an enthralling four set match with some great tennis, but in the end the heat told on del Potro and Andy Murray was again victorious. It was his second consecutive Olympic singles gold.

Ending the year on a high

Out in the quarters at Flushing Meadow
Out in the quarters at Flushing Meadow

Murray was number two seed for the US Open in September and favoured to meet Djokovic in the final. He had won 24 of his previous 25 matches, when he met Kei Nishikori in the quarter finals. Losing this match was a big disappointment and a major setback in his bid to become number one.

However the Scot regrouped, and in October-November he won four tournaments in a row.

China Open: won (beat Dimitrov in final)

Shanghai Masters: won (beat Bautista Agut in final)

Vienna Open: won (beat Tsonga in final)

Paris Masters: won (beat Isner in final)

The win in the French capital finally gave him the number one ranking.

Icing on the cake

The Madrid Open trophy won back in May
The Madrid Open trophy won back in May

The defence of his world No 1 ranking has spurred Murray into some remarkable performances over the last week, even if the effort he had had to put in had left Djokovic as the favourite in many people’s eyes. The Independent

The Barclays is probably the most competitive tournament of the year. With the top eight ranked players taking part, there are no easy matches. To reach the final Murray had two very tough “best of three sets” matches. He needed over three hours to beat Nishikori and even longer to prevail over Raonic.

Djokovic’s run to the final was much less demanding, however Murray’s greater consistency in serving, retrieving and hitting winners, saw the Scot finish the year on a high, and cement his place as the undoubted number one.

It obviously a very important win for me. It was just a huge match to finish the year, to try and finish No. 1. This is a major event, as well, and one I’ve not done well in the past. So it’s been a great week. Andy Murray