Some of us can script our own life story, only a rare few of us can edit it. It is this editing in sportspersons' lives that decides where they will eventually stand.
Federer has done it: from being a racket-smashing youngster to a man on a seemingly never-ending tennis campaign of seduction with his preternatural authority in shot-making. As for how influential he is as a human being and as an ambassador of sport, a lot of ink has already been spilled.
The last couple of years have given tennis fans an opportunity to witness such transformation in two younger athletes: Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. Djokovic's moment came when he beat his greatest rivals like Federer and Nadal in Grand Slam events. He then set out on an enviable demolition drive and razed everything that got in the way.
Now it's Murray, a walking bundle of British hopes. For years on end, Murray's Slam aspirations took a beating with his much-criticized defensive style of play. He had this uncanny talent of letting his opponent sneak into the match midway and snatch it away from him in key tournaments.
But, after the Olympic gold medal, we are talking a different Murray.
From a Pro to a Champion
Beginners always have an edge over the seasoned ones: They suffer many fewer mental contusions before turning pro. Nothing is expected of these title aspirants because nothing much is known about them apart from the few statistics flashed across the TV screen.
Murray and His Transformation
A sportsperson reveals only one side of his persona when he walks onto the court. All we get to see is their waving hands and a smile and a flicker of hope in their eyes.
But the very personal, the very intimate reality of a player can be a whole lot different. There are moments of pride and elevation, dejection and depression. There is also this annoying realization of one's own immaturity, inadequacies.
For a long time, everyone said Murray had what it takes to be a champion. But until his Olympic victory, in my opinion, all his wonderful shots were nothing but pieces of a kaleidoscope out to awe the audience individually, but refusing to assume symmetry.
But for this symmetry to happen, a lot of self-observations had to crystallize first and corrections happen alongside. He had to pay heed to the consistent tone seeking answers, the rhapsodic pressure leading up to a manic pursuit of the ultimate success.
To be the best, you have to not only have the best shots and a superbly fit body, but something more. To be in love with a sport, to be saturated in it means you are ready to transform yourself.
First, he had to stop identifying himself with how the world defined him. He had to necessarily overcome all of these challenges posed by both: the within and the without; the real and the imagined.
Something had to touch the visceral chord over and again—be it a heart-wrenching disappointment like Wimbledon or a much-anticipated victory—or maybe both.
That's when something happens: a switch, a transformation, a eureka moment. When we talk about Murray's eureka moment, we also talk about millions of his other moments which we never got to see.
And no prizes for guessing when it arrived and where.
Most of all, how.
At U.S. Open
In my opinion, winning the forthcoming U.S. Open would mean a lot to Murray than perhaps any other top player. It would not only be his first Slam victory, but one that comes right after a major win at the Olympics.
If he has to wade his way through top-notch opponents like Federer or Djokovic to achieve his moment of glory, which is quite likely, so much the better!
Murray would have then answered many questions. Especially those emanating from within.