I honestly don't think losing in Australia this year is anything like losing the other major finals. Those two losses before in Australia especially, were devastating, in some ways more than losing the USO final in 2008 I think, and as for Wimbledon, I was more concerned about Andy to be honest, rather than my own disappointment. This, in comparison, just feels like one of those things, a blip. Sure, I can't help wondering about what if Andy had gone into the final fully fit, what if he'd had longer to rest between the semi and the final, what if he hadn't had to play most of his matches in the heat of the day, but there we are. I think we can look back over the final, and the tournament, with pride, with a real sense that Andy has more chances to come.
What I think Andy did at the AO is show how he has developed. No longer does he get embroiled in long matches with players he should get rid of fairly quickly, such as Haase. No longer does he lose focus for points, even games at a time, if things get frustrating. Now, if Andy is under pressure, it seems to bring out the best in him, at least most of the time.
I can't put it in to words really, but Andy looks the part out there now. He didn't appear to be intimidated by Federer in the semi. He didn't look out of place or uncomfortable to be out there in the final. Even the way Andy walks on the court between points is different now. I wouldn't suggest he has a swagger, but it's the closest damned thing to it I've ever seen lol. Watch him against Federer for example. Everything about him said 'I'm winning this match'.
I really do think that win against Federer was huge. Sure, it could have been done in four. It could even have been done in three, but I think in a way it was probably more significant that it was in five, even if that had a bearing on his chances in the final. Andy demonstrated that he could play his best when it mattered, that he could rise to the challenge of the stiffest opposition he'd had, arguably, until that point. He showed that he could hold it together and come through even when Federer was starting to show some signs of getting back. Andy even held it together when Federer showed his true colours and indulged in some petty head games.
Andy has shown now that he is the second best player in the world. That will show in the rankings soon, without a doubt. I also remain convinced that Andy will challenge for, and achieve, the world no.1 position at some point. I agree completely that it is inevitable that Andy will win more slams, because he keeps putting himself in the position to do so. Indeed, I think it is easy to overlook how strong Andy has been in putting himself in the position again and again, even when he has had to deal with adversity. That will to do it though, shows the measure of the man.
I remember so vividly watching the TV and seeing Andy play at Queen's in 2005. He was obviously a long string of raw talent, totally unlike anything we had ever seen before in Britain. More McEnroe, with all due respect, than Henman, the potential in him was so obvious. I remember telling people then that Andy was going to win slams. I do so love being proved right, and there is much, much more to come, I'd bet my life on it.