Great Britain’s Andy Murray has been here before—just four weeks ago, actually. The player on the other side of the net in Sunday’s Olympic gold-medal match will be none other than Roger Federer, the man who left Murray in tears on Centre Court of the All-England Club following last month’s Wimbledon final.
After defeating Serbia’s Novak Djokovic 7-5, 7-5 on Friday, the world No. 4 will have a shot to bring home a gold medal for the host-nation of the 2012 Olympics. Murray has played well all tournament, picking up right where a stellar run to the Wimbledon final ended four weeks ago.
Sunday’s final will be a fitting one: the greatest Wimbledon and Grand Slam champion against Great Britain’s lone hope in men’s tennis.
Murray’s opponent is 7-for-8 in finals on Centre Court and has had so many historical career moments at this venue.
In 2001, a teenage Federer ended seven-time champion Pete Sampras’ reign in a major upset. In 2003, he won his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, the first of five consecutive Wimbledon titles and seven overall. In 2009, Federer claimed the record for the most Grand Slam titles with a 15th win. Most recently, he tied Pete Sampras’ record for the most Wimbledon titles, defeating Andy Murray in the process.
Murray’s story couldn’t be any more different. The Brit has never won a Grand Slam title in 27 attempts. He lost in four finals, three times to Federer. Sunday’s final will mark only the second time he has played in a final on Centre Court.
Year after year, Murray carries the weight of an entire nation solely on his own shoulders. No one can truly fathom the kind of pressure that Murray is faced with. The last British man to win a Grand Slam title was Fred Perry in 1936 when he won both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
While the odds are stacked against Murray, his fighting spirit can never be discounted. At last month’s Wimbledon final, Murray gave it his all and came up just short. He entered the tournament with the hopes of a nation, and after his emotional post-match speech, he left the tournament having captured the hearts of world.
Roger Federer may be the odds-on favorite to win the Olympic gold medal, but Andy Murray may just have enough support to rally him to Olympic glory.