Three tight and often nail-biting roller-coaster sets were needed to engrave the name of the victor at Wimbledon onto the Roll of Honour. That name was Andy Murray, a determined 26 year old man from Dunblane. Over the years he has battled his way through the Wimbledon Championships with an increasing degree of success, eventually falling at the semi-final hurdle in 2009 to American star Andy Roddick and again to Spanish rival and friend Rafael Nadal in 2010 and 2011. In 2012 he became the first British male since 1938 to reach the final, only to be denied by Roger Federer in a match which was interrupted after two sets as the heavens opened.
At this stage Murray had now lost four grand slam finals and was openly emotional after his defeat. But a year on, things were very different. He had come into the tournament with an Olympic gold medal and a US Open title under his belt, and was now the second best player on the planet as well as the bookmakers second favourite to win the tournament. After Nadal and Federer fell unexpectedly in the first and second rounds respectively, Murray - thanks to his own achievements and the help of coach Ivan Lendl - already had the mindset required to lift the trophy on the final day. And on Sunday he successfully proved his mettle against world No.1 Novak Djokovic for the second time in less than a year to do just that.
Murray became the champion of Wimbledon on Sunday, 7th July 2013, in front of thousands of cheering Brits. Most of them might not have predicted the moment, but others had it down in their calendars that this was Andy Murray’s year to rule the grass; to put an end to 77 years of waiting for a male winner and lift the crushing burden of expectation placed on his shoulders.
While most people were celebrating this most significant time in British sport since the Olympics and the Tour de France last year, others were conjecturing about the young Scot’s future and where the release of the pressure would lead him. Would he be able to defend his US Open crown, or would it lead him on to do the British ‘triple’ and add winning the World Tour Finals, which will be held at the O2 Arena in November, to those of Queens and Wimbledon?
Murray will next be seen stepping up to the blue hard courts of Montreal, where he will accompany the other big names of the sport in the sixth Masters 1000 tournament of the year - the Rogers Cup. He has twice before been a champion here; the only Masters in the calendar that alternates locations between two major cities. His efforts last year were cut short as he had to withdraw before his third round match with Canadian star Milos Raonic, having beaten Italian Flavio Cipolla in straight sets - only days after giving the spectators at the more colourful Wimbledon the thrill of his gold medal win.
A knee injury caused by the sudden change of surface may have cost him a shot at more points to add to his ATP ranking last year, but this year a well-rested Murray will be sure to please us again with a stellar run, whether it is to the semi-finals, final or to win the whole tournament. He will then have to travel straight to Cincinnati to contest another Masters, with zero time for rest. Murray has held the trophy aloft at this event too - in 2011, when he had the benefit of a retirement from the red-hot World No. 1, Djokovic to seal yet another Masters title to his name. Unfortunately last year his game coming into the tournament proved too little to get past intense Frenchman Chardy in the third round and saw him tamely bow out in straight sets.
These setbacks, however, didn't stop him from clinching his maiden Slam three weeks later in New York - so winning a few matches should be good enough preparation ahead of his US Open title defence which begins on August 21st.
Murray’s mentality and confidence are sure to show no cracks in these few weeks, and his game will bind the three vital links together. This is one part of the year in which he can accumulate a good number of ‘charity’ points before he has to carry his racquet bag over his shoulder again onto Arthur Ashe Stadium and hopefully produce seven high quality performances to earn back the silver trophy.
As for the distant future, the Wimbledon win could prove to be the final factor which will turn the British press away from their periodic slayings. It could also at last put an end to the misconception from a lot of the public that have regarded him as a ‘dour Scot’.
There are also question marks about whether Murray’s relationship with his long term girlfriend Kim Sears could ring wedding bells, although Murray has denied such a thing happening in the near future.
Finally, there is the question of a knighthood he has had pressed on him since he lifted the trophy on Centre Court. Well, that can wait until he has retired.