The thing that strikes me, looking back now, is how calm Andy was in the final. I really don't recall much berating himself, smacking his head, smacking the racquet, that sort of thing. I also don't recall much looking over towards Ivan, Kim and co, although maybe he did. When Petch is commentating he doesn't seem to remark on that sort of thing, whereas Barry 'excuse me while I crawl up my own backside' Cowan pounces every time Andy so much as murmurs. Andy should ask him how many slams he's won
I must just say, I think Petch and Fleming did a great job for Sky with the commentary. It was the right balance between neutral and really in to it, although I swear Petch almost sounded like he couldn't breathe towards the end!
You know, I'd almost forgotten about that loss to Chardy. It felt completely irrelevant to me at the time, and it proved to be. How far did Chardy get at Flushing Meadows? I just didn't see a point in Andy going all out to save that match, and he probably could have, with the USO so close. There would have been no point in saving that and doing well in Cincy to then go on and have a bad time at the USO. I'm not really suggesting anything about tanking, but I think there are times when certain losses don't mean anything, and that was one of those times. The same applies to the Mahut match at Queen's, and definitely applies to Andy losing to Raonic in Barcelona. At the end of the day Andy won the USO (I love saying that
), he got to the Wimbledon final, and he taught Raonic a lesson he is unlikely to forget any time soon at the USO. Job done for now, I would say!
What I still can't get over is picking Andy so far ahead of this year's USO and then him going and doing it! I knew I should have put a few quid on the lad! I just felt, seriously, that something has been changing in him for a while, even before Lendl arrived, and it would come to fruition for him by the time this year's USO came round. Lendl's arrival sort of sealed it for me. Somehow I knew they would click, and they have, big time. I'm glad Lendl gets the importance of the Olympics and sees it as a big one.
I think Andy can take so much from this USO. He won for a start, and got the monkey off his back. No more will he have to endure being asked when he is going to win a major. No more will people be able to question if he will win one. There will be no more doubts that he fits right in with that elite group at the top. Remember when it was being said that Andy was losing ground on the top guys, and that some behind him were catching him up? What utter rubbish. Andy has shown that he fits right within the top four and there is still plenty of room, and time, for more.
I think Andy can take so much from the way he dealt with the pressure moments at the USO. He was clearly nervous and struggling physically against Bogomolov, but he won in straight sets anyway. He toughed it out against Lopez and did his thing in three tie-breaks. People will insist that Andy wasn't playing well in that match. I look at it differently. Sometimes I think you have to give an opponent a little credit. I still feel that Lopez played out of his skin that day. I still don't recall seeing him play better than that against anyone, let alone Andy. Andy's back was right to the wall with Cilic, but it's weird, at no point did I think he would lose. Either I'm psychic or Andy is brilliant, you take your pick
. Against Berdych Andy coped better with the conditions. He was also very tough in that 4th set. Just about anyone else might have found themselves in a fifth set there. Not Andy, not now. In the final Andy was physically strong and mentally tough. I do think he was picking himself back up in the 4th set, but I also think that bathroom break was such a wise move. It tells me that he was thinking clearly, working out what to do and getting himself ready to do it. I also think that when it came down to it he wanted to win, didn't want to lose another one, so he went out there and fought. I think he played a total blinder in that 5th set. It reminded me so much of the way he was against Fed at the Olympics. It was like he'd made up his mind he wanted it, he was going to take it and that was it. I just think that shows how mentally strong he is. I really do think being able to take stock like that before that fifth set will help him when he is in that position again.
I just feel at the moment that this year we have watched Andy come of age right in front of us. I think there was always a potential for him to play this well and get to where he wants to be, but now we are seeing it. It feels damned good! The exciting thing for us, which could scare the hell out of opponents, is that there may be room for Andy to get even better. I think we can look to the future now with real optimism.