November 21, 2016
He said he “never expected it” and the pundits had even less belief. However, Andy Murray succeeded in beating his arch nemesis, Novak Djokovic to not only win the ATP World Tour Finals but to retain his week old No 1 ranking.
Let’s get one thing straight. Andy Murray deserves to be world number one. He is the best around right now, because he is the most consistent.
Murray is one phenomenal physical specimen, with a technique to match. He is also a very nice guy, despite the occasional foul-mouthed rant on the tennis court.
Britain should be proud of Andy. Tennis is also lucky to have him. And in a straight shoot-out for world domination, Murray emerged a clear winner by 6-3, 6-4. No arguments there.
But where was Djokovic? We mean the real Novak, the one who always has the psychological upper hand over Murray when it matters?
There was a moment, during the penultimate changeover, when Murray feared his nemesis had returned. Djokovic had been storming back from 4-1 down in the second, and for once the Serb seemed to have the momentum.
That’s when Andy did something he probably shouldn’t have done. He glanced over at Novak, anxiety written across his face.
But Djokovic wasn’t there. He was lost in meditation, he didn’t spot the sign of weakness and self-doubt in his adversary.
Murray is so used to losing to Djokovic in the really big matches that there was a time, even quite recently, when he almost seemed to have given up believing he could win. Australia and France this year – yes, this year – provided further evidence.
That glance across showed that Murray’s inferiority complex hadn’t entirely disappeared. Yet there appears to be no need for it any more.
Not when Djokovic is effectively slitting his own throat out there, swiping simple smashes into the net on big points and making no fewer than thirty unforced errors – twice the number Andy made in the big showdown.
It looked as though the body of Novak Djokovic was out there playing the final, but a complete stranger had occupied it. Someone with very little mental strength, a shadow of the great man who has dominated our game for so long.
We might have thought that this straight fight for world number one would have brought the real Novak back to us. There should have been wounded pride and intense motivation at play, after he had the title of Top Dog taken away from him.
But he didn’t even seem to mind that much. In fact his mind was somewhere else entirely.
Whatever problems Djokovic is having off court, there comes a time when he has to find a way to channel his energies back into what he previously did so well. Unless of course he doesn’t want to?
Does Djokovic feel he has achieved everything he wanted to achieve in tennis? How long can he just go through the motions, without displaying that legendary fighting spirit, for which we all love him?
At least he now has a break and he might just use it to find the answers.
Otherwise, the way could open up for Murray to take that elusive Australian Open title at last.
That has to be more important than the number one ranking – the fresh objective.
Fortunately, the two can go hand in hand anyway. No room for self-doubt now, Andy. You’ve proved you can do it!
Andy Murray, as Wimbledon Champion 2016, will be opening the 2017 Wimbledon Championship on Centre Court on Monday 3rd July 2017. If you wish to watch him play please click on: