Flushing Meadows may have been evacuated but the venue couldn’t escape the presence of a Scottish Tornado as Andy Murray finally lived the dream.
Novak Djokovic was hardly blown aside in five hours of the most enthralling tennis, but his game was certainly driven off course by the courage and persistence of Dunblane’s local hero! Stormy weather wasn’t the song coming from Murray’s heart, rather ‘New York, New York’, and a performance making sweet music for his devoted followers!
From the days of that early Nalbandian clash when his lack of fitness at the highest level was ruthlessly exposed, Murray has been on a rollercoaster ride of huge proportions. He worked at his game relentlessly after that exciting day at Wimbledon, and yet the doubters remained. ‘Yes he can win big matches and even get to the Semi Final of Grand Slam tournaments’, many would say. But a Grand Slam Winner? Psychologically he just isn’t tough enough? He just isn’t good enough to take the last step? The players in front of him simply can’t be overtaken? The cynical questions kept coming.
The truth is Murray has found an inner determination to succeed since the day when as a three-year-old he first picked up a tennis racquet. His grandmother Shirley Erskine said: it was his “remarkable” determination that had driven him to victory.
“Andy was a handful as a child, [his brother] Jamie was much more laid back and when they played board games the board would go on the floor if Andy wasn’t winning.”
“He had a temper on him and would always stamp his foot and say ‘I’ve got to do better, I’ve got to get better’, but he focused that eventually and used his energy to play tennis.
“It was a problem at the time but now you look back and recognise the temperament and the desire you need to always win.”
It was he who at 15 he urged his mother Judy to let him train at the Sanchez-Casal academy in Barcelona . Since then she has been the driving force behind his route to the top.
Murray’s mantra has been simply ‘hard work’ and ‘more hard work’. He’d think nothing of ruthlessly taking his game and approach to pieces or disposing of distinguished coaches like the American Brad Gilbert, if he felt the relationship was not working. Thanks to his fitness guru Jez Green this most determined of Scotsmen has become the fittest player on the ATP circuit. Perhaps this has been the overriding factor in staying with the World’s best at crucial times in vital matches. He’s also mastered the second serve and learned how to be ‘canny on court’.
There can be little doubt the turning point came in this year’s Wimbledon Final when Roger Federer once again showed him what winning finals was all about. It wasn’t just about how he started but how he needed to finish, and of course the end result hurt him badly. But the wounded animal was given a second chance in the Olympic Final, and everything he’d learned at SW19 barely a month before, was used to systematically destroy Federer’s game.
Suddenly, there emerged an inner strength to go with his outer confidence. Much of this must go down to the masterstroke of bringing the expertise and mentality of Ivan Lendl on board. A cool, steely, methodical approach was perhaps what Murray needed all along.
Having been the first Brit in 76 years to win a Grand Slam is enough to give Murray Legendary status, but can he go on now to greater glories having broken through the winning barrier? Approaching the apex of his powers, the answer has to be a resounding yes. The biggest challenge now lies on grass and Scotland’s greatest sporting hero perhaps has a two or three year window at most to conquer Wimbledon!
The next chapter of this remarkable and inspirational career book will be well worth reading. Murray for sure has served the circuit a notice of intent. But for now he’s very much a part of it. ‘New York, ‘New York’, that is!