September 7, 2008

I'm So Over Andy Murray

I'm sorry, Andy Murray, but I'm just not that into you.

I was rooting for Rafa just like the whole of Arthur Ashe Stadium was tonight. I was surprised, and a little disappointed, that you made it to the semis but was willing to concede that because, I figured, there was no way you would beat the world's number one player. You don't have the style, the power, or frankly, the fan base. It was a foregone conclusion.

You gave me a fright on Saturday. Between the raindrops and on a secondary court, you managed to win not one but two sets from Nadal, something you'd never done before. You were on a roll, it seemed, and I was nervous. But the arrival of a Tropical Storm named Hannah suspended play in the middle of the third set, and, I thought, you'd never be able to maintain your momentum over the break.

I was wrong.

On Sunday evening you managed to nudge a half-court backhand past your opponent on break point and earned your place in the finals. Thus the match everyone expected and most fans wanted, #1 Rafael Nadal versus #2 Roger Federer, was not to be.

It's not that I have anything against you, Andy -- well, that's not entirely true, but let's pretend that it is. Your win precluded tennis history -- the Nadal-Federer match would have been one for the ages. Sure, the two have met eighteen times before, but this would have been the first time they played when Roger didn't hold the top ranking and the top seed. Nadal took both over on August 18th after winning the French Open, Wimbledon and Olympic Gold all this year, a task I'm not sure has ever been accomplished before. Roger would be fighting to regain his position as the King of Tennis, and Rafa would have been a step closer to winning the U.S. Open Series prize and solidifying his reputation as an all-court force.

Instead we get Federer and Murray. A twelve-time Grand Slam champion versus a first-time finalist. You do have the chance to go down in history -- a win tomorrow would make you the first Brit to claim a major title since Fred Perry did it in 1936. I guess it's interesting, but on a much less exciting level (no offense to the great Fred Perry!).

Despite Roger's experience, higher rank, multiple trophies, it turns out you actually have a winning record against the amazing Mr. Federer, Andy -- two to one, including a victory this past March in Dubai. The fact that Roger has been struggling this year is not news. A bout with mono sent him packing early at the Australian Open, and he missed the chance to win his sixth straight Wimbledon title in what might go down as the greatest match of all time. In fact he's only won two singles tournaments this year and not a single Slam, something that hasn't happened since 2002.

But his time isn't over. He's got plenty of wins left in him. And, sorry again, I'm hoping that the next one comes at your expense tomorrow night.

It's not you, Andy, it's me. You've definitely got talent, I grant you that. I watched you last Wednesday playing Juan Martin Del Potro and was impressed by your drop shot. I gritted my teeth as you ran Nadal back and forth across the court and dictated the play during the semis. You were seeded sixth coming into the final Slam of the year and, win or lose tomorrow, you'll climb to your highest ranking, number four.

But I don't think I can ever forgive you for beating my favorite Englander, Tim Henman, three years ago in Switzerland, and suggesting they re-dub Henman Hill as Murray's Mound at the All England Lawn Tennis Club -- far too presumptuous and entirely premature.

So, Andy, I feel it's best we part ways now. No hard feelings. I wish you the best of luck in your future, but I'm over it.

I. Am over. You.

And to all the rest of you reading, thanks to you!

'Til next time, serve well and play hard!

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