Murray ends 74-year wait for British finalist
74 years: that’s how long the nation has waited to see a British man in the Wimbledon final. On Sunday, Andy Murray will become the first Brit since Bunny Austin in 1938 to take to Centre Court in the final, as he takes on six-time winner Roger Federer in what promises to be the most eagerly anticipated Wimbledon final in the Open era.
Murray has looked strong throughout the week: tough victories against Ivan Cilic, David Ferrer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has earned him his place in his first Wimbledon final, but he will have to raise his game if he is to beat the final obstacle, Federer.
Federer, apart from his third-round scare against Julien Benneteau, has returned to his glorious best this week and made light work of the man who is currently the best player in the world, Novak Djokovic, in his semi-final. Earlier this year when Djokovic beat Federer for a place in the French Open final, I wrote that Federer was on his way out – how wrong I was.
The roof could play a major role in deciding the outcome, both players have been very strong with the service and if the roof is open, Murray will benefit; but as we saw against Djokovic, a closed roof makes Federer just that much stronger.
Murray’s partnership with new coach Ivan Lendl is showing some real signs of success. The service has vastly improved, while from the baseline, Murray is one of the best on the tour. Their partnership has resulted in a semi-final appearance in Australia, and a quarter-final place in the French Open (Murray was struggling with injury).
It will be a tough ask for Murray to overcome a veteran of Wimbledon finals; like the Scot, Federer’s best win percentage comes on grass and Federer has lost just one of his seven Wimbledon finals, the epic five-set clash with Rafael Nadal in 2008.
Ever since Nadal bowed out in his shock second-round win to Czech Lukáš Rosol, the expectancy for Murray to reach the final has increased. Nadal would have been Murray’s semi-final opponent, and given the way Murray tired towards the end of his clash with Tsonga, he perhaps wouldn’t be facing Federer on Sunday afternoon if Nadal was his opponent.
With the rise of Djokovic and the true class of Nadal, it’s easy to forget just how good Federer is. Arguably the greatest player in the Open era and a Grand Slam finalist a record 24 times (twice against Murray) at the Australian Open and the US Open, and twice Federer has emerged victorious – will it be third time lucky for Murray?
While Murray remains our greatest-ever hope in ending the wait for a British men’s winner, the nation should perhaps be supportive rather than expectant.
Come on Andy!