Unpredictable weather? Sue Barker? Strawberries and cream? It can only mean one thing … Wimbledon 2013 is upon us again!
At the start of last year, I was of the opinion that if Andy Murray didn’t win a Grand Slam during 2012 he would probably never win one. Injuries have never been a major issue for him, unlike his counterpart Rafael Nadal. However, one-sided Grand Slam final losses to his rivals raised questions about the Scot’s ability to remain focused when it mattered most. Yet 2012 proved to be one of Murray’s finest years and he was practically injury-free to boot which aided his cause.
I was fortunate enough to attend a number of matches during Wimbledon 2012 and saw the assorted performances of many British players, including Murray. He reached his maiden Wimbledon final only to fall short in four sets against the evergreen Roger Federer. But that wasn’t the end of it. He came back to SW19 during that very summer due to the London Olympics and won gold in the men’s singles and silver with Laura Robson in the mixed doubles. Not only that, his winning momentum continued into the US Open where he claimed his first ever men’s singles Grand Slam title in thrilling fashion and thus ending Britain’s 76 year wait for one.
2013 has been a mixed bag for Murray so far. He reached another Australian Open final, only to lose again, albeit with a bit more gusto, against the unstoppable Novak Djokovic. This was followed by an unconvincing victory in Miami to claim his 9th Masters title. More worryingly he missed the French Open due to a back injury. It was the first time in 6 years Andy Murray had missed a Grand Slam event. Previously, a young Murray nursing a wrist problem was unable to compete at Wimbledon 2007. His decision to miss this year’s French Open was based on the premise of recuperation, in-order to be fully fit for Wimbledon. This seems to have paid off with satisfactory performances, which led to his 3rd title at the Queen’s Club. Despite an awkward slip in the final, there was no evidence of reoccurring back pain.
The below-par performance of other Britons at the French Open demonstrates how much the British public depend on Murray to maintain his elite-level status. His brother’s mixed doubles victory at Wimbledon 2007 and Jonathan Marray’s men’s double win in 2012 are merely minor British successes at best in the grand scheme of things. Of course Laura Robson and Heather Watson have improved of late and the British tennis team without Murray did well against Russia in the Davis Cup recently. Yet at present, an injury-free Murray is the sole-difference in Great Britain having presence in the final stages of all of the Grand Slam tournaments.
Murray should be fully fit and up to form come 24th June; the start date of this year’s Wimbledon Championships. But in tennis terms, aged 26, his best years are almost beyond him. If he doesn’t win Wimbledon this year, he will probably struggle in the years to come to match Fred Perry’s accolade. Provided Heather Watson isn’t suffering from any ill-effects post-glandular fever and Laura Robson is on form, we could expect a British woman or two to appear in the second week of Wimbledon for the first time in a long time. As for the men, Murray is the only hope. Dan Evans’ unfortunately lost in the Wimbledon qualifiers, in spite of his recent heroics in the Davis Cup and at the Queen’s Club. James Ward seems to the only other British player who could make a mild impact of sorts. Let’s just hope that there is no early exit for Murray and that he can re-write history once again as we buckle up for another tennis roller coaster ride.
With special thanks to our guest writer Ash