Post #62: Andy Murray Breaks Through

As my wife can testify, I’ve consumed massive quantities of tennis these past two weeks during the 2012 U.S. Open.  So much, in fact, that I’ve had loose volleys in my hair, top spin forehands stuck between my teeth, massive overheads clinging to my thighs, second serves out wide on the bottom of my shoe, rain delays in my back pocket, backhands down the line puffing out in my exhalations.  You get the point.  Last night’s men’s final between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic was a war of attrition, both physical and mental, to match any grand slam final I’ve seen.  In terms of sheer energy and will expelled by the players, it’s up there with the 2008 Wimbledon Final and this years’s 2012 Australian Open Final.  The two players punished each other, a flinching contest on live television.  Though, as is often true in tennis, it was a mental battle above all.  The conditions were absurd.  Cool and with gusting winds that found both players serving cautiously and measuring their ground strokes like level tea spoons into cake batter. Even still, shots were frequently Mary Poppinsed over the baseline, or coasted out wide, seeming to lift off like they’d sprouted wings.  The match went to the player that was able to battle and then harness his own frustration, doubt, and will the most successfully, Scotland’s Andy Murray, making it not only Murray’s first grand slam victory (although he did win the gold medal at this summer’s London games), but making him the first Brit to win a major tennis tournament since the age of Napoleon.  Okay, not quite, but close.  It was the match of the tournament.  A fitting capstone to a triumphant two weeks of tennis in New York City.

As thrilling as the match was, it was Murray’s reaction to FINALLY winning a grand slam that sticks in my mind a day later.  It was, in a word, muted.  I’ve watched me some tennis over the years and I’ve never seen a tennis player celebrate a major victory will less overt fanfare.  I’m sure that Murray was thrilled–you’d have to be a robot not to be, and we know Murray’s not a robot because a robot would never have hair that bad–but it was kind of hard to perceive.  He more so seemed caught in a web of dazed relief, as if viewing his victory through a funhouse mirror. Or like he was afraid he’d slipped into a dream state and at any moment would wake with a runner-up trophy in his hand. Now, he’d just played five hours of brutal tennis against the best returner of his generation and was cramping visibly, so perhaps his body simply denied him the usual catharsis that we’re used to seeing, that we associate with those triumphant moments.  But even later at his post match press conference, if not for the giant silver trophy to his left, Murray almost looked like he’d just lost the match.  During the interview, he admitted that the dominant emotion he was experiencing was relief, citing the difficult conditions and the length of the long and grueling match.  He spoke about how the reality of it hadn’t yet sunk in, and how perhaps he was taking a cue from the perpetually staid demeanor of his new coach, Ivan Landl.  My favorite moment was when a reporter asked if he’d felt any exaltation since the victory, to which Murray replied, “I don’t know what that means.”  It was kind of a funny moment–a simple break down in vocabulary–but I like to pretend that he knew exactly what it meant and that he meant he just didn’t have access to that particular emotion.  As if exaltation was a place he wasn’t sure how one would get to, like say, Jupiter.

Regardless, my heart went out to the Scot.  Once the constant bridesmaid, he is runner up no more and though I enjoy the artistry of Serbian wonder boy Novak Djokovic, who is about as fun to watch as a tennis player gets, I was thrilled to see Murray pull it off.  Way to go Andy.  Now go celebrate.  Kiss your lovely girlfriend.  Fill that massive trophy with Dom and drink heavily.  And smile, goddammit.

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51 responses to “Post #62: Andy Murray Breaks Through

  1. As an unwavering Fed-fan, I’m glad that, if it was anyone other than Fed to win it, I’m glad that twas the Scotsman.

    As a guy who spent over ten years dreaming of winning a grandslam final as a teeny tot, I can’t even imagine what he must have been feeling. I’m not sure anyone can.

    Well written, and thanks for the link to the press conference.

  2. I understand that he would just be relieved. It would be brutal to never win a major after winning the Olympics.

    I also appreciate the athletes who are calm and cool. Who win and then act like it was nothing. That’s a classy touch — or perhaps he was just exhausted and relieved.

    A few years back it seemed like Roger Federer was untouchable, then Rafael Nadal matched him and that was awesome to watch. Then Novak Djokovic moved from third to first and now Andy Murray is in the mix — not that he wasn’t before winning a major but he is now truly at the top of the sport. Tennis is really exciting these days.

  3. Exactly my thoughts. I did more fist pumps than Andy. But you could tell he was quite exhausted and just seemed relieved!

  4. I think there was a huge amount of pressure on Andy Murray to win this time. If you lose once, then you can think, well maybe next or even if you lose twice but after four loses, he said he was doubting himself. There was also the 76 year gap since the last British man won a grand slam. So, it wasn’t just the pressure that he personally wanted to win, but it was important for British tennis, and Britain, certainly after the summer of sport we’ve had in London!

    I assume he was just relieved that the pressure was off him and he rarely ever smiles so I doubt that’ll change.

  5. I do like your use of Mary Poppinsed, was that brought on by the mention of a tea spoon…(ful of sugar?)

  6. I missed the match. This says it all anyway.

  7. Congratulations on being a featured Blogger of the day, on the front page

  8. Good article. I too watched the match and as a proud Scot myself was thrilled for Andy Murray. I confess I was a little taken aback by his reaction at the end although I think dropping to his knees with head in hands was probably quite appropriate given his utterly exhausted physical and mental state. I’m just glad there wasn’t a sixth set or he’d have collapsed on court.

    He does frequently come across as dour and glum although there are also plenty of press/media photos and interviews where he has a beaming smile and his jubilation is clear. I think you are probably right about his immediate reaction to winning being due to utter relief. I think his mind was probably in a blur. In the interviews he did after some time had passed, his joy is far more obvious.

    He can be a pretty shy guy publicly but when you see him off camera, he is a different person to the one with the unsmiling reputation. His reaction to winning the Olympic gold medal was one of obvious joy, even running and leaping on court and thrusting his arms in the air after climbing to the gallery where his family and supporters greeted him. I think though, that his muted reaction at Flushing Meadows showed that, as great as his Olympic victory was, it didn’t, in his own mind, compare with or make up for the lack of a Grand Slam win. I think he was probably in a state of disbelief in the Arthur Ashe stadium. He said in a later interview that he was “very very happy on the inside” and apologised if he wasn’t showing it. I confess it’d have been nice if that very very happiness had seeped through a little more.

    I admit I was worried for him after the Wimbledon defeat, I thought if he lost the US Open after being two sets up then I wasn’t sure he could come back from that. I think he has now answered his doubters once and for all.

    I admit though, it would have been good to see him looking happier in the immediate aftermath of his victory. If he, sorry, when he wins his next title, if he doesn’t at the very least punch the air in excitement or something, I will be a little concerned myself.

    Thanks for your article :-)

    • Thanks for all your thoughts on this! I’d assumed that Scots everywhere were thrilled and it’s glad to know for sure. Whatever Murray’s reaction, he accomplished something truly amazing two nights ago. Thanks for reading!

      Benjamin

  9. His coach would be relieved too, he was a perennial bridesmaid too. Sad that a player of Murray’s and Roddick’s talent had them playing at the same time as the likes of Federer, Nadal and Djokovich.
    Also Murray’s past is something that has had a big impact on him emotionally, so he has done well to have that mental fortitude to get to where he has.
    Great post and congrats on the freshly pressed.

  10. Hi there. I really enjoyed reading this. I am new to the world of blogging and so was just browsing through Freshly Pressed when I came across your blog.
    I will agree that you would have expected more of a cheer or shout of relief from Murray when he won, but I actually found his silence quite emotional. The look of disbelief on his face, and the crowd cheering so loud for him really did make me almost shed a tear. I am British and so to see his victory of a Grandslam is just awesome. Even if he is reluctant to smile!
    Thanks for a good read :)

    • Thanks so much for reading, and for your comments. I agree with your thoughts–there was a quiet intensity, dare I say nobility, in his understated reaction. I’m really pleased that you enjoyed the post and I’m happy you stumbled upon it! Best to you.

      Benjamin

  11. Haha, this is exactly what I was thinking when I watched him “celebrate”! I was like, “Why isn’t he jumping into his box?!” “Where are the tears?!”, but I can understand that initially he was just so relieved/shocked to finally get through that maybe the big celebration didn’t come naturally. Was very happy to see him get the championship, and hopefully he can celebrate more on court when he wins his next one. Great post!

  12. It was really great to see him clinch the first grand title not only for himself but also for the entire UK that’s kept awaited to wake up again nearly for a century. The portal is open again…

  13. Check out Marat Safin’s two slam “celebrations.”

    What a match! I am so happy for Murray, and more so for tennis. 2013 is shaping up to be one of the most interesting years in awhile. Great post.

    • I’ll definitely check out Safin’s celebrations. He’s always entertaining. There’s a great documentary about the 2003(?) Masters Cup in Texas that features him and Federer and Roddick among others. On Youtube. Well worth the time. Some great behind the scenes peeks at the tennis life. Thanks for reading…glad you enjoyed the post!

      Best,
      Benjamin

  14. Really like your site. How about trading links with a Scottish writer?

  15. No one has wanted a grand slam title more than Andy Murray. Full congratulations to him. I bet he’d secretly trade his gold medal for a first grand slam title too; but now he has both and we expect greater things from him yet.

  16. He blew me away at the Olympics, now he blows me away with the US Open. Definitely a new power house of Tennis. Thanks for sharing!

  17. I’m just so happy for Murray. I’ve grown up on tennis due to my mum’s fascination with it, and I still remember the days of Tim Henman, when the British public hoped for a champion in him. He came, he went, and Murray came in. A lot of people didn’t believe he could make it, especially in his early matches when he didn’t have the stamina to tough it out with the masters, but now he finally has. A true Champion: taking Olympic gold, beating Federer and Djokovic, and winning the Grand Slam. Well done Murray! It’s time for the next wave of tennis champions to come through! :D

    • I grew up a tennis lover too and though I’m American I remember fondly Tim Henman and how close he came! It’s great to see Murray breaking through as he seemed for so long like he would. Since you’re a tennis nut like me, you’ll enjoy this documentary about the 2003 Masters Cup. It features Federer, Roddick, Hewitt, and Henman towards the end of his career. Very cool behind the scenes look at the tennis world. Thanks for reading!

  18. “Fill that massive trophy with Dom”

    According to his widely-leaked (and comp’ed!) Hakkasan bill from later in the day, it seems the Murray entourage prefer Louis Roederer. ;)

    Well done Andy!

  19. I agree I think he was just in shock at his win and he must know what the word, exhilaration means. Very good introspection. I love tennis I have a blog on here that talks about him as well but not to the same degree. My thoughts lean more toward Serena.

  20. Great post. The fickle Brit press have been massively hard on Murray. There’s a lot whirring in that head of his … it infuriates me that he’s criticised for not having text book media friendly emotions.
    Love your listed symptoms of having watched excessive amounts of tennis. Made me smile. A lot.

  21. So nice to see a piece about Mr. Murray. I, too, am a HUGE tennis fan and watched that match. I was rooting for Murray for all the reasons tennis aficionados mentioned above. It is nice to see other players enter the top realm.
    Congrats on being FPd! Enjoy the ride :)

  22. Thanks for the link to the press conference. Thank goodness his performance on the court is so much better than his performance in interview.

  23. “…because a robot would never have hair that bad” Too funny. And great, great read!

  24. deliveryfolktales

    Thanks for the link! I have never been a huge tennis fan but i am pretty intrigued by this post, very nicely written! All the best, matt

  25. amen.
    the up-and-coming, finally, came.

  26. I missed out on the final, but am pretty happy for Murray because he is a good player and seems like a nice guy. Reading on Twitter and Facebook everyone was going wild! Lets see how he goes in the future

  27. Yup as sour faced as he is I couldn’t help feeling happy for the guy…seeing how he’s literally grown into his game…

  28. Great post and great to know that there are other mad tennis fanatics out there. Andy Murray deserves every single moment of this great victory. He’s an inspiration and being from Ireland with Scottish blood, I feel just thrilled now that I’ve managed to come out from behind my cushion and breathe again.
    Well done on being Freshly Pressed! Reminds me of the presses to stop wooden tennis rackets from warping, remember them???

    • Thanks Jean. Thanks so much for reading! I do indeed remember wooden tennis racquets…so heavy! I’m too glad to know there’s other tennis lovers keeping tabs on what’s going on. And so cool to be connecting with Ireland! I had a look around your blog and it’s great. Nice work!

      Best to you.

      Benjamin

  29. I am a fan of Roger Federer, but I am happy to see Murray picking up!

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