Murray Wins US Open and Breaks the Curse

Congrats to Murray on his first slam slam title. Believe it or not, I am happy for him. I’ll be the first to admit that I wrote him off after the Olympics. I just go by historical facts until I’m proven wrong. Having said that, my readers will know I’ve changed my attitude about Murray since the beginning of the year. I was always very negative about him, saying he would never win a slam. But since the beginning of the year I got tired of bashing him and stated that his partnership with Lendl could just be the thing that changes his luck. I just felt that even the guy I disliked the most deserved a break. We all do.

I thought Roger would win the US Open. It felt like destiny once again, but it wasn’t to be. A very awkward opponent for him in Berdych stood in his way. It was unfortunate because I felt Berdych did Murray a huge favor. I think Roger would have beaten both Murray and Djokovic. And as expected, Berdych was only a shadow of the Berdych that faced Roger when he played Murray. He won the first set and then just disappeared until the fourth set where he choked the tie break away. It was really disappointing to see him play so well against Roger and then falling flat against Murray. It’s like he only plays to beat Roger and not to win slams.

In the other semi Djokovic lost the first set against Ferrer, looking like a huge upset could be in store. But rain interrupted play, they came back the next day, and Djokovic breezed through the next three sets. I still felt Djokovic was the favorite for the final, but also that this might just be Murray’s moment. When Murray won the first set 12-10 in a dramatic tie break I felt even more so. But he still had a long way to go. When he won the second set 7-5 I thought he would win for sure. But Djokovic wasn’t done. He fought back and won the next two sets 6-2, 6-3. It was far from over. But Murray seized the moment and broke Djokovic twice in the fifth set to silence the doubters.

The match itself wasn’t of a very high quality. In the first set both players looked very nervous and did a lot of pushing. It was a good final as far as drama goes but as far as quality is disappointed. I know if Roger was there, pushing would not have been tolerated by him. But of course Berdych was bashing winners at will. Anyway it was nice to see Murray finally break through after all the criticism he received. Even if you hate the guy you got to be happy for someone who received so much criticism, endured, and then finally proved them wrong. Like Lendl he finally broke through after losing his first four slam finals.

I think this title will open the floodgates and we could well see him win multiple slams from here on. In a sense the Fedal era ended at this US Open and the Djokoray era dawned. But of course Roger is still #1. The fact that Murray won is good news for Roger. Djokovic lost 800 points by losing to Murray. This gives Roger a chance to still end the year ranked #1. So all in all I’m happy with how the US Open turned out. Ideally Roger would have won the title, but I’m happy for Murray and the fact that he won means Roger can still end the year on a high. If he ends the year ranked #1 it would really cap off a fantastic year.

By ending the year ranked #1 he would equal the only impressive record that Sampras still holds by himself. This makes the rest of the year interesting in terms of tennis. There is everything to play for still if you are Roger. Roger has a lot of points to defend as he won Basel, Paris, and London last year, but he is playing Shanghai as well which will give him a chance to hold onto that #1 ranking and end the year #1 for a record 6th year. I’m positive and excited about what lies ahead. In a sense I am glad things turned out this way, because if Roger won the US Open he would have had the #1 year end rank pretty much secured, and the rest of the year wouldn’t have been that interesting.

I think Roger will be very motivated for the rest of the year now. His favorite indoor season lies ahead. He will have a great chance of winning the title at every event he has left to play. Especially at Basel and London. It would be awesome if he could win the Masters Cup for a 7th time and thereby clinch the year end #1. That would really cap off a fantastic year in the best possible manner. The dream is on once more…

Ps. Roger announced that he will play Davis Cup against the Netherlands this weekend. Maybe a bit of a surprise given that he is playing Shanghai this year. I guess he is still feeling pretty fresh. It also shows that the US Open loss didn’t hurt him much and that he is ready to take on the world once more!

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17 Comments

  1. Murray’s career this year has taken on an interesting pattern. Outside of the Olympics and the USO he has won only one(!) other tournament this year – at Brisbane in January (against Dolgopolov). Contrast that with Roger, who has won 6 tournaments this year, as well as making 8 finals. Roger is consistently good but Murray only shows class – or boosts his performance – at the slams. Unlike Roger, Murray has performed poorly in the slam warm-up tournaments – whatever the surface, but made the semis or better in each slam. Mmmm. It’s a pattern we have often seen with Nadal (remember how poorly he performed at Toronto and Cincinnati before crushing the field at the 2010 USO?) This year Murray wins the Olympics, crushing Fed in the final, then pulls out of Toronto injured and is beaten early by Chardy (who?) in Cincinnati, before winning the USO with his capacity for endless rallies. I am picking the Scot has learned something from the Spaniard.

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    TD Reply:

    Rich,
    Don’t forget to mention that the Spaniard had learned it from the Swiss!
    I guess it’s just a natural transition in a player’s approach once his getting to his midcareer point and sees himself as a slam contender. As a young player you go out and fight for any title week in week out. But later in your career you start calculating and planning your schedule around the most important ones.

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    rich Reply:

    In that case, you would expect the 25- year-old Murray to win more non-slam tournaments than the 31-year-old Federer, since according to your argument the older player will tend to focus on the big ones (and Masters titles aren’t big, right?) Well, waddya know, although they have won the same number of slams this year – one each – Roger has won five times as many non-slam tournaments (that include masters titles) as the much younger Murray. No sudden surges of form discernible there for Roger. At Murray’s age Roger was winning up to twelve titles in a year, with three of them being slams. Murray, the new Grand Slam champ, has only one non-slam title this year (not counting the Olympics) – and it’s not even a Masters title. One of these players could be boosting for the slams. It ain’t Roger.

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    TD Reply:

    Rich,
    1. Are you seriously comparing Murray to Federer? It’s ridiculous to expect Murray to achieve as much as Federer, they are not in the same league.
    2. Regarding Murray and his slim title count I would say that his not young anymore, he won 24 single titles in all kinds of tournaments and the only thing missing till this last USO was a grand slam trophy. That’s why he isn’t too worried about not winning more lower ranked titles.
    3. Federer did win many titles lately but if you look carefully at his career you can see the pattern I mentioned: (year-titles(slams))
    2006-12(3)
    2007-8(3)
    2008-4(1)
    2009-4(2)
    In 2010-2011 most of his titles came during the fall season, after the USO. He wasn’t really competitive before that (except FO2011).
    2012 is an aberration and I believe Federer didn’t plan to win IW or Madrid. He was focused on Wimbledon/Olympics. But when the opportunities came of course he took advantage. And anyway, at this point in his career he plays for fun without the pressure to prove himself so he might still try to win those smaller tournaments, unlike the times when he was only trying to break Sampras record.

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    rich Reply:

    You are missing the point. I am not comparing Murray to Federer overall but making the observation that you might expect those who wins slams, and perform well enough to get to the quarters, semis or better, should also be successful in the Masters series tournaments that lead up to the slams. That is because the best in the game generally win – and that’s not just Roger. (Correspondingly, when he wasn’t winning slams in 2010 and 2011 Roger wasn’t winning much else, either – which is probably what ought to happen if a player has a slump in form.) But I think it is dubious that a player who is good enough to win a grand slam – in the fashion in which Murray did, by exhausting a tough opponent – should also not show a consistently high level of performance in the Master series between the slams. After all, it is their career and it is big money, and none of the top players play to lose. Yet the contrast in form with Murray this year, between slams and non-slam events, is quite dramatic. When I see apparent cycles of performance like that then I think we might suspect – well, “cycling”! The sad reality we have to come to terms with today is that doping doesn’t begin and end with Lance Armstrong. No one now in any professional sport can be above suspicion, and some are more suspicious than others.

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    Wilfried Reply:

    Rich, I think Td has got a point in claiming that Murray is aiming the slams and not so much anymore the ATP-1000 events.
    First observation in that respect is the inversely proportional tendency in Andy Murray’s slam and non-slam performance. As a matter of fact Andy’s win-loss ratio has been gradually increasing in the slams but decreasing in the ATP 1000 events since 2008:
    2008: 0,75 (slams) – 0,76 (Master Series)
    2009: 0,789 (slams) – 0,806 (ATP 1000)
    2010: 0,80 (slams) – 0,741 (ATP 1000)
    2011: 0,84 (slams) – 0,731 (ATP 1000)
    2012: 0,88 (slams) – 0,615 ( ATP 1000) !!!
    http://www.coretennis.net/tennis-player/andy-murray/279/stats.html
    Second observation is his ATP 1000 final wins.
    In 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011, Andy Murray won each year still at least 2 ATP 1000 events. However , with the exception of his win in the ATP Miami event at 5 april 2009, those wins all came in the second half of the season with each time one win before and one after the US Open.
    In 2012 he did win zero ATP 1000 although he came close to winning the ATP 1000 of Miami. He’s got still chances though to improve on his win-loss ratio at the ATP 1000 events by winning perhaps in Shangai or Paris.
    But I don’t think he’s aiming those events so much. He’s more interested in eventually winning the Master Cup in London or the AO next January. That’s also part of the reason why he lost in Queens (before Wimbledon) and in Cincinnati (before the USO). I assume he prefers to rather lose these preparatory tournaments now and save some energy for the big events than tiring himself out too much right before the start of a major (as he did in 2011). Which of course doesn’t exclude him boosting his performance by whatever means available…

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    rich Reply:

    Wilfried, you can’t simply dial up form when you want it, or turn it off and on like a tap. If you see that, then you should ask questions. Murray is hardly tiring himself in the best of 3 tournaments. Any player that can put together 50-plus shot rallies, and outlast a gluten-free Djokovic in 5 sets isn’t having fatigue problems – anymore.

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  2. Congrats to Murray, but I have to say that I don’t see him winning many more titles. He’s so passive, no initiative, no imagination, nothing changed in his game but the mental part. How many times can a player return the ball to the middle of the court? So boring. No wonder he hasn’t won anything till now. He needed a Djokovic 1.5 and difficult windy conditions to win this one. He will find out that it won’t be enough next time he meets Federer/Nadal/Djokovic 2.0 in a slam match.

    Djokovic impressed me with his fightback. He showed he has much more game than Murray. At least he tried to create something. He’s a better player than Murray.
    BTW, anyone noticed how he went for his return shot on match point? Against Federer it worked last year but this time it went long… “Lightning never strikes twice.”

    My biggest question (and concern) is Federer’s motivation for the rest of the year. I really don’t know how to analyze it. On one hand he achieved his goals for the year and it might be enough, but on the other he might still finish 1st though it requires a strong finish. I guess it all depends on how much he still has in his tank. I won’t be surprised either way.

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  3. Totally enjoyed and agreed with your comments about Murray. It was not great tennis. But that should not surprise anybody, there won’t be many athletes like Federer playing tennis like a piece of art. But you got to feel satisfaction for this poor guy to finally achieve a GS title. We all got tired of the Murray bashing and everybody can move on now.

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  4. I can’t see Murray winning more than 3 or 4 Slams, maybe 6. He is 25 now and his style of tennis doesn’t lend himself to playing at a high level in his older years. I’m happy that he finally won a Slam, and it was inevitable really – it was going to happen at some point when the stars aligned for him. But he can’t be reliant on troublesome wind at every Slam, or Federer/Nadal not being there to stop him (does anyone think Murray would have beaten Roger here in wind?).

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  5. meh. I usually agree with you, but still can’t stand Murray. His game, his mother, Lendl, British triumphalism. Even though it was better for Roger that he won, I found myself rooting for the Djoker. Not sure why. The final was a super dud overall and emblematic of tennis’s future after Fed eventually retires. I wish there was someone else on the tour that one could pull for, but Fed is unique and he also is from a different era. The games of Nadal, Murray, and Djokovic all seem so one-dimensional compared to his.

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  6. I find Murray quite entertaining. He’s no Roger but adds to the mix of tennis personalities.
    I think Roger should not get his hair cut before a grand slam. Think Oz’09. He seems to play better with longer hair!

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  7. thanks for the post Ruan, interesting read.
    and congrats to Murray. i like him yet really disike his tennis. just too passive. he played so cowardly in the final. Djoko is much bolder player and deserves to be on top after Fed is done (hopefully not before that). all and all it is kind of sad for me that the future of tennis consist of defensive baseline players.

    i share everyones concern about Fed’s motivation, but we should believe in our man, no? he has proved time and time again he loves the game so much and relishes the competition so i guess we shouldnt be doubting his commintment.

    other thing that sort of troubles me is that Fed had some exhos scheduled to be played in south america in december. i wonder if it wont be too taxing for his 31 yrs old body at a time he should be getting ready for the AO… but once again – fed is the GOAT when it come to managing his schedule so i hope i am wrong about that too.

    cant wait for the indoor season to start. i hope Fed can defend some of his titles and get a strong showing in china as well.

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  8. It was so boring to watch those long baseline rallies in the final, no variation, no imagination, no creation of angle at all, hardly they were running around their backhand to take control, maybe because they’re more reliable on their backhands. They were just hitting from the baseline deep into the court. It was somewhat worse version of Aus open final. It is really difficult to give full attention to a whole match where players trying to grind it out when roger is not there. I hope proactive guys like tsonga and delpotro will rise to the occasion when roger will retire eventually, which obviously i’d like not to happen anytime in near future.

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  9. Congrats to Murray. As you said Ruan, Murray will be a real contender for future slams and I think this will help Roger to secure his 17 GS titles(Hope for more though :-) ).
    We all know that if Djokovic 2.0 was not there, Nadal would have won 3 more slams (i.e. Wim 11, UO 11 and AO 12) by now and the grand slams count would be 14.

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  10. Hi Ruan. I like ur lines
    “It was really disappointing to see him play so well against Roger and then falling flat against Murray. It’s like he only plays to beat Roger and not to win slams”.

    It was exactly the same way i felt. How fantastic he played against fed. but in the 2nd & 3rd set I thought it was match-fixing. man, what ur doing. where is ur power gone? No first serves. really struggling to put the ball back on court.. Anyway murray destined to win. Now im hoping for nadal’s return & indoor season. Its really interesting whats going on in nadal’s mind given that all the top-three gone a step further.. Anyway we’re all ready for fitting season-finale.. Hope roger come out atop..
    PS: Roger never failed to end the year as ranked No.1 after earning it at some point of time in the year..

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  11. Yeah, one of those Oh-Dear-Roger-Moments, sadly !! : way too many UEs on both wings, too low percentage of first serves when it did count, losing focus in really tight & important situations aka fourth’s set “disater-break” and indeed there was – contrary to RF – Mr. Berdych who was simply playing great and not willing to sacrifice, even more after he’d lost the third set. And Birdych – when on – has all the weapons to hurt & beat all the big boys, besides I think he’s getting mentally stabel more & more. And Mr. Murray ought to be still on his knees to thank all ‘evil’, ha, GODS of weather for sending him such difficult stormy & gusty conditions, especially in his semi-final match against Tomaz, which favored him, cause he’s the guy with more variety and who did adjust way better.

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