September 24, 2012
by Mark Ryan (part of the Mail on Sunday‘s Wimbledon reporting team)
So he has finally done it. Andy Murray is a Grand Slam champion at last! He took the US Open, just as Fred Perry did 76 years earlier – the last time a British player won a Grand Slam. No one who stayed up last night to watch Andy’s thrilling marathon against Novak Djokovic will ever forget it. Andy certainly had us all worried for a while – but that just made the last set all the more satisfying, didn’t it? And 7-6, 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 tells a story of its own. Here is a player who has changed something deep inside himself with the help of his coach, Ivan Lendl. Now Andy can come through a crisis and still find a way to win. He believes. He can be ruthless at just the right time, particularly in the first game of a vital set.
At Wimbledon a few months ago, even those who doubted Murray still loved the way he cried tears of frustration at coming so close to pleasing us. Next summer’s Wimbledon promises to be very special. Andy will arrive as Olympic Champion, US Champion, and who knows what else, now that he has found the key to winning. The return of the conquering hero. Sure, there will be pressure, but not like before. He has proved himself among the very best.
Of course, there is one last way for Andy to put the icing on the cake. Win Wimbledon 2013. And which of us wouldn’t love to say we were there when he achieved that ultimate goal? There’s no earthly reason why he can’t do it now. But that’s for the future, a very real possibility, something to dream about during the winter months. Let’s celebrate what’s already happened, be happy for Murray, and reflect upon this amazing climax to a truly unforgettable summer.
You’ve got to hand it to Serena Williams. Where does the hunger still come from? She has enough money and enough titles to put her with the all-time-greats already. She certainly doesn’t have anything to prove to her sister Venus or father Richard any more. And yet the other night in New York, when she was 3-5 down to Victoria Azarenka in the final set, she dug deep and pulled out something special again. Sheer guts to win 6-2, 2-6, 7-5. The fighting spirit of a true warrior. An insatiable will to win. She told us later she had already been preparing her runner-up speech. I don’t believe a word of it. This is one lady who really hates to lose. And that defining quality doesn’t seem to have changed with the passing years. Some people find it hard to warm to Serena. But the Wimbledon crowds should cherish her while she is still entertaining us. True sporting warriors are rare and should be savoured.