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Posts Tagged ‘Andy Murray’

Scotland’s Andy Murray has won his 2nd Wimbledon title, three years after winning it for the first time. He has now won 3 Major titles, having also won the US Open in 2012. Remarkably, it was his 11th Major final. Murray beat Canadian Milos Raonic, who was playing in his first Major final. 

Andy Murray won his 2nd Wimbledon title yesterday (Sunday10 July)


As anyone who reads my blog will know, I’m a huge Federer fan, so I was disappointed to see him go out in a thrilling 5-set defeat to Raonic in the semi-finals. I’m still hopeful that Federer can win a few more majors before he finally retires, but clearly his chances of doing so are getting slimmer and slimmer. 

Murray is a very popular champion. He is widely respected and admired for his level of commitment and dedication to being one of the world’s best tennis players. Will he be able to start beating Djokovic in future Majors? Only time will tell, but he will give it everything that he’s got. 

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Yesterday (Saturday 2 July) saw reigning Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic crash out of Wimbledon in the third round to American Sam Querrey. Not only was Djokovic defending his title,  but he is currently the holder of all four Major titles, a feat not done since Rod Laver in 1969, as I mentioned in this blog here.

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Novak Djokovic suffered a shock defeat in the 3rd round of Wimbledon, brining to a halt his dream of doing the Grand Slam (holding all four Major titles in the same calendar year).

Djokovic’s defeat of course opens up the draw to other contenders. As Djokovic was seeded number 1, and Andy Murray number 2, it will make no difference to Andy Murray unless he reaches the final as they are in opposite parts of the draw. However, it may make a difference to my own favourite, Roger Federer, as he is seeded number 3. Federer would have met Djokovic in the semi-finals if they had both progressed.

I will keep my fingers crossed that this time next week I will be looking forward to a men’s singles final featuring Federer. I so want to see him surpass the record he currently jointly holds with Pete Sampras and win his 8th Wimbledon title. We shall see.

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Yesterday (Sunday 5 June) Novak Djokovic won the French Open and became the first player since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four majors at the same time. He also joined a small group of players who have won all four majors, but to hold all four at the same time is much rarer. As anyone who has read my blogposts about tennis knows, I am massive fan of Rod Laver, and I don’t want to take anything away from his remarkable achievement of doing the Grand Slam (winning all four majors in the same calendar year) twice, in 1962 and 1969.

But, for anyone today to win all four majors is far more difficult, and I don’t mean because there are more tennis players competing, although there are. It is because now all four majors are played on different surfaces, which was not the case in Laver’s day. When Laver won his two Grand Slams three of the four majors were on grass. The only one which wasn’t was the French Open. So, if you were an expert grass-court player, as Laver was, it was much easier to win three of the majors than it is today. This only adds to Djokovic’s remarkable achievement of being the first player since Laver to hold all four majors at the same time. Federer has never achieved it, nor Nadal, nor McEnroe, nor Sampras, nor Agassi. None of them.

Novak Djokovic won his first French Open. He now holds all four major titles at the same time, the first player to achieve this since Rod Laver in 1969

Andy Murray won the first set 6-3, but after that Djokovic started to cut the errors out of his game and the next three sets went to Djokovic pretty quickly, 6-1, 6-2 and 6-4. Murray just had no answer for Djokovic once the latter got his game into gear.

Djokovic has now won 12 major titles, and if he carries on like this who would bet against him surpassing Federer’s record of 17 major titles? Also, as the French Open is his second major of 2016, he is on track to do the Grand Slam, winning all four majors in the same calendar year. Again, the last person to do this was Rod Laver, in 1969.

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History was made at Wimbledon yesterday. On a day which saw court-side temperatures reach nearly 50C, Andy Murray from Scotland became the first British Men’s singles champion at Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.


Andy Murray holding the Wimbledon Men's trophy, ending the 77-year wait since Fred Perry in 1936.

Andy Murray holding the Wimbledon Men’s trophy, ending the 77-year wait since Fred Perry in 1936.


It was a captivating match. The first game lasted over 10 minutes, with Murray having 3 break points. It was a portend for how closely fought the match would be. Although Murray won in 3 sets (6-4, 7-5, 6-4), nearly every point was keenly contested, and very few games were won easily by either player.

Murray needed every ounce of his strength and fitness to overcome his Serbian opponent. During each change of ends both players sat under parasols held by ball boys with ice cubes wrapped in towels around their necks to counter the heat. Long before the end of the first set, Murray’s shirt was drenched in sweat, but his years of dedicated conditioning had prepared him well for such energy-sapping conditions.

Not surprisingly, even after losing the first set 6-4, Djokovic was far from out of the match. The Serb went into a 4-1 lead in the 2nd set, but Murray fought his way back to take it 7-5. But still the World number 1 was not beaten. He went into a 4-2 lead in the 3rd set, but again Murray was able to haul him back. Murray broke Djokovic to serve for the match at 5-4, and after failing to convert 3 Championship points Murray finally sealed the historic victory when Djokovic’s shot went into the net.

My parents, 79 and 78 years old, do not even remember the last time a man from Britain won Wimbledon. That is now long ago it was that Fred Perry won! One of the most tantalising questions now is how many Major titles can Murray go on to win? How many times can he win Wimbledon? Many tennis greats believe he could win half a dozen or more. We shall have to wait and see.


All the newspapers in the DUK have Andy Murray on the cover.

All the newspapers in the DUK have Andy Murray on the cover.


The cover of the Daily Mirror.

The cover of the Daily Mirror.


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With the men’s and women’s finals of Wimbledon coming up this weekend, I thought I would share this interesting chart that I came across recently in “The Economist” magazine. It shows the number of Grand Slam (major) titles won by different players since tennis became “open” in 1968. It also breaks it down into which of the four majors each player has won.


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If we look at the top five grand slam winnners in both the men’s and women’s games in more detail it is interesting to see some of the differences between the men’s and women’s all-time best. Note: I have re-ordered the table so that it is in the order the tournaments are played during the year, with the Australian Open (January), followed by the French Open (June), then Wimbledon (July) and finally the US Open (September). I have also worked out the percentage of each player’s total wins in each tournament (rounded to the nearest percent).

The top five men’s grand slam winners


The top five men’s grand slam winners
Name Australian Open French Open Wimbledon US Open Total
Roger Federer 4 (24%) 1 (6%) 7 (41%) 5 (29%) 17
Pete Sampras 2 (14%) 0 (0%) 7 (50%) 5 (36%) 14
Rafael Nadal 1 (8%) 8 (67%) 2 (17%) 1 (8%) 12
Björn Borg 0 (0%) 6 (55%) 5 (45%) 0 (0%) 11
Jimmy Connors 1 (13%) 0 (0%) 2 (25%) 5 (63%) 8


The top five women’s grand slam winners


The top five women’s grand slam winners
Name Australian Open French Open Wimbledon US Open Total
Steffi Graf 4 (18%) 6 (27%) 7 (32%) 5 (23%) 22
Chris Evert 2 (11%) 7 (39%) 3 (17%) 6 (33%) 18
Martina Navratilova 3 (17%) 2 (11%) 9 (50%) 4 (22%) 18
Serena Williams 5 (31%) 2 (13%) 5 (31%) 4 (25%) 16
Margaret Court 4 (36%) 3 (27%) 1 (9%) 3 (27%) 11


What strikes me most about these two lists is that in the women’s game, all of the top five have won each of the major tournaments at least once. Apart from Margaret Court in fifth place, the top four women have actually won each of the majors at least twice. In the men’s game only two of the top five have won all four majors, namely Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, and each of them has only won their “weakest” major once. In fact, since tennis became open in 1968 only four men have won all the majors. The third man is Andre Agassi (who won 8 majors in total). The fourth is Rod Laver, who is the only man to have also completed the “Grand Slam” of holding all four titles in the same calendar year (1969).

These differences are best illustrated with pie charts, as they are normalised to the number of majors won by each player (unlike the bar charts above). When the data are displayed like this it becomes more obvious how much more spread amongst the four majors some players are compared to others.


Pie charts for the top 5 men.

Pie charts for the top 5 men.



Pie charts for the top 5 women.

Pie charts for the top 5 women.


Remarkably, Björn Borg’s 11 titles came from dominating two majors; he is the only top five man or woman with this kind of profile. He won 5 successive Wimbledon titles and 6 successive French Open titles, but he never won either of the other two majors. He never even got close in the Australian Open, the furthest he got in this tournament was the 3rd round, which he accomplished on one occasion. He did, however, get to the final of the US Open on four occasions, but was defeated in the final each time.

Similarly Jimmy Connors and Pete Sampras never managed to triumph at the French Open. Neither ever got to the final of the French Open. Sampras got to the semi-final on one occasion, and Connors got to the semi-final on four occasions.

The other thing which strikes me about these two tables is that Steffi Graf, with her 22 major titles, also shows the most even number of victories on the different surfaces. Her seven Wimbledon wins is nearly equalled by her six French Open wins, on the two surfaces which are most different. Nearly all the other names in the men’s and women’s list show a domination in one major or another, with Rafael Nadal’s eight French Open titles being the most extreme example.

The 2013 Wimbledon has certainly been a tournament of upsets. Nadal went out in the first round, and Federer in the second. On the women’s side, Sharapova went out in the second round and Serena got as far as the fourth round. With last year’s winners of both the men’s and women’s titles (Roger Federer and Serena Williams) both being eliminated, all we can say with certainlty is that the 2013 winners will not be the 2012 winners!

Today’s women’s final will be between Marion Bartoli of France and Sabine Lisicki of Germany, and so we will definitely have a new name on the Venus Rosewater Dish. Tomorrow’s men’s final will be between Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Andy Murray of Scotland.

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As I type this early on Wednesday morning (23rd of January 2013), half a World away in Melbourne Andy Murray is playing in the quarter final of the Australian Open Tennis tournament. He is playing against Jérémy Chardy of France, and Murray has just won the 1st set 6-4. Chardy is currenty ranked 36 in the World, Andy Murray is ranked 3rd. So, on paper at least, it should be a win for Andy Murray. Should he win, he has the unenviable prospect of facing Roger Federer in the semi final on Friday.

As those of you who follow tennins will know, Murray won his first Major a few months ago, when he won the US Open in September 2012. This came after his agonising defeat in Wimbledon, which I blogged about here, but also after his success one month later in August in the 2012 Olympics.


Andy Murray won his 1st Major, the US Open, in September 2012.

Andy Murray won his 1st Major, the US Open, in September 2012.


Prior to winning his first major, Murray had suffered an agonising series of 4 defeats in major finals. In particular, in Australia where he lost twice in a row. He lost to Roger Federer in the 2010 final, and in the 2011 final he lost to Novak Djokovic. Here is a summary of Murray’s records in Grand Slam finals.


Murray’s record in Majors
Year Tournament Opponent Score
2008 US Open Roger Federer 2-6, 5-7, 2-6
2010 Australian Open Roger Federer 3-6, 4-6, 6-7
2011 Australian Open Novak Djokovic 4-6, 2-6, 3-6
2012 Wimbledon Roger Federer 6–4, 5–7, 3–6, 4–6
2012 US Open Novak Djokovic 7–6, 7–5, 2–6, 3–6, 6–2


Now that Murray has finally won his first Major and got that monkey of his back, many are expecting him to go on and win many more over the next several years. Only time will tell. Certainly having Ivan Lendl as his coach seems to have made a big difference. Lendl won 8 Major finals in his career, but just like Murray he lost his first 4 Gland Slam finals. This experience has probably proved invaluable in advising Murray on how to improve his mental approach and start winning at the final hurdle. Should Murray win in Melbourne, he will be the first man in history to follow up his 1st major victory with a 2nd victory.


+++++UPDATE+++++

Murray won easily, 6-4 6-1 6-2.


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After yesterday’s semi-finals, we now know the line-up for the 2012 Wimbledon Men’s final. 6-times champion Roger Federer against the Scot Andy Murray. It will be Murray’s 1st Wimbledon final, although he has made it to the final of a Major three times before (twice in the Australian Open and once in the US Open). Although Murray is a fellow Celt, I will be shouting for Roger Federer, my favourite player of the last decade.

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Roger Federer in his jacket celebrating 15 Major titles.

This will be Andy Murray’s 1st Wimbledon final and his 4th Major final. He is yet to win a Major.

Federer has the chance to set a number of records on Sunday. Should be win, he will increase his record of Major titles to 17, widening the gap between him and the previous holder Pete Sampras, who won 14 in his career. He will also equal Pete Sampras’ record of 7 Wimbledon titles. Thirdly, he will become only the 3rd man behind Sampras and Rafa Nadal to have won a particular Major 7 times (Nadal achieved this by winning the French Open for a record 7th time this June). And lastly, should he win on Sunday, he will go back to being Number 1 in the World rankings, which will mean he will beat Pete Sampras’ record of the most weeks ranked as World number 1.

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Pete Sampras shaking hands with the man who would eclipse his Majors record, Roger Federer.

Why am I such a big fan of Federer? For me, he is the most complete tennis player I have seen since John McEnroe. I know that is a pretty big statement to make, but it is my opinion! His range of shots, his ability to either play at the baseline or come to the net, is something I don’t feel I’ve seen since John McEnroe. Also, his touch. He has a level of skill and touch with the ball which again, I have not seen since John McEnroe. Sure, in the last 2-3 years Federer has increasingly lost to Nadal and, this last 12 months, to Djokovic. But, without taking anything away from these players, I find they rely more on power, speed and strength rather than the range of shots Federer has. Also, just for Federer’s backhand, he deserves a place in the list of the very best tennis players. As someone who never managed to master a decent backhand, I am in awe of the power and precision he is able to get on his backhand. It is the finest men’s backhand I have ever seen, with Justin Henin having the best women’s backhand I can remember ever seeing.

Should Federer win on Sunday, and thus achieve the list I made above of accomplishments and records, where does it place him in the list of all time tennis greats? It is so difficult (impossible) to compare players from different eras. Not only has the game changed, with the development of modern, more powerful rackets, but also the tournaments have changed. If Djokovic had won the French Open in June he would have become the 1st player since Rod Laver in 1969 to have held all 4 Majors at the same time. Although Federer and Nadal have won all 4 Majors, they have not held them at the same time. And, even if Djokovic had won the French Open, he would not have won all 4 Majors in the same calendar year. Again, Rod Laver is the last person to have done this, in 1969.

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Rod Laver, the only man in the Open era to have done the Grand Slam (winning all 4 Majors in the same calendar year).

What is remarkable about Rod Laver’s achievements is that he did the calendar Grand Slam twice, in 1962 and 1969. And, he didn’t play any of the Majors in the period 1963-1967 as he was banned from playing them, as he turned professional after his 1962 Grand Slam. In 1968 tennis went “open” (allowing professionals to play) and Laver won Wimbledon in that year (note: the Australian Open in 1968 did not allow professionals, the first Major to be open to professionals was the French Open of 1968). The following year, he won the Grand Slam, the first player (male or female) to win it in the Open era, and the only male player to have done so. One can only speculate how many Laver could have won, if he’d been allowed to compete during those years from 1963 to 1967.

However, one has to also remember, and this is not to take anything away from Laver’s remarkable achievements, that in his day 3 of the Majors were held on grass, the only one which wasn’t was the French Open. Additinoally, the Australian Open was held in December at the end of the year, and very few Northern Hemisphere players used to bother going to Australia for it, making it a much easier tournament to win than it is today.

Ultimately I think trying to compare players from different eras is impossible. One can talk about records, number of titles won etc. But even that depends on who is around at the same time. Federer finds himself playing at a time when the level of competition from Nadal and Djokovic is very high, it may be that in Laver’s day he did not have such fierce competition.

I am too young to remember Rod Laver, but I grew up admiring the skill and touch of John McEnroe. He wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, due to his frequent outbursts at officials. But, I always saw this as his perfectionism, and also the fact that most of the time he probably did see the ball better than the line judges.

For me, the greatest display of tennis I have ever seen is his victory over Jimmy Connors in the 1984 Wimbledon Men’s final. He completely destroyed Connors, playing as if possessed. He won 6-1, 6-1, 6-2. He himself says it is the best match of tennis he has ever played, every shot he tried came off, and some of the shots he tried were unbelievable. Bearing in mind that Connors was the no. 2 in the World at the time, the gulf between the standard of tennis of the two in that match is truly remarkable.

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John McEnroe, holding the Wimbledon Men’s title cup, which he won in 1981, 1982 and 1984.

The entire 1984 final between McEnroe and Connors seems to be available on YouTube, split into multiple parts. Here is the 1st part:

But, although I would dearly like Federer to win on Sunday, I am in a bit of a win-win situation, because if Andy Murray wins he will become the first Celt to win Wimbledon ever, and we Celts have to stick together. 🙂

UPDATE

Federer wins 3-1. Well done Federer!

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From today’s (Monday the 9th of July 2012) Daily Telegraph newspaper.


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