Andy Murray: The Lessons and Beauty of Failure

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Andy Murray: The Lessons and Beauty of Failure
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Andy Murray- 2012 US Open Champion

We are often told that any form of success, whether small or large, is invariably preceded by failure.   

As history prescribes to us, failure has proven to be a catalyst, not a hindrance, toward fulfilling the goals we set out for ourselves.

Society provides us with no shortage of examples of individuals who exemplify this very sentiment.

Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. 

Albert Einstein could not speak until he was four nor could he read until he was seven.

Ludwig van Beethoven's teachers thought he was "hopeless" at composing.

These examples represents only a brief portion of the hundreds upon hundreds of legendary figures in music, athletics, science, entertainment, art, etc. who either proved unable to initially strive in their desired craft or were deemed not talented enough to do so by figures around them. 

Before 2012, Andy Murray fit into both these categories.

He couldn't win a Slam, resulting in a lack of belief in the eyes of many to trust him to eventually win a one.

After losing in his first three major finals (US Open 2008, Australian Open 2010, Australian Open 2011), Murray began to demonstrate the lessons he had learned from these experiences, taking the opening set off Federer in the 2012 Wimbledon final. Murray was in control of this match, a feeling that was all too foreign for the Brit in his other major finals.  

2011 Australian Open Final

 

 

 

His aggression was abundantly more evident than in any of the other major finals. To complement his aggression, he was hungry and prime to draw blood.  

After winning that opening set, Murray conceded an extremely tight second set which Federer won 7-5, a scoreline so close, yet so unrepresentative of how skintight the set was.

Despite going on to lose the match in four sets in which he was simply outplayed, Murray put forth an absolutely superb account for himself.

While the losses in the first three Slam finals may have lit a fire under Murray to motivate himself to step outside his strategical boundaries and become more physically enduring and unyielding, the Wimbledon 2012 loss had a vastly different connotation.

It had nothing to do with strategy, fitness or anything related to the swinging of a racket.

It all had to do with mentality and confidence.

He had just nearly taken the first two sets against arguably the greatest player of all time in a tournament Federer had conquered on six previous occasions. This match illustrated significant progress for Murray because he had made inroads in an environment in which he had been squashed on three separate, humbling instances.

2012 Wimbledon Final

Even though Murray had failed to win a major once again, the loss to Federer showed him that it was something that he, Andy Murray, could in fact make a reality.  

 

As American Author Zig Ziglar so eloquently expressed, "If you want to reach a goal, you must see the reaching in your own mind before you actually arrive at your goal."

 

Summoning the first three major losses again, it is undeniable that while one would like to believe Murray truly absorbed the lessons he needed to from these losses, it was a much slower development than was desired.  

Murray's anguish fortified itself as an immutable, subconscious barrier.   

In the Wimbledon 2012 final, though defeat reared its ugly head once again and surely pained Murray as evident in his post-match tears, it was the failure that gave Murray the essential fuel to fight on with the belief that winning a major was not a question—it was going happen.

And this is the type of attitude that Murray has done such a better job of translating to on-court situations.  

While still irate and disagreeable at times, he has done a far superior job of channeling his negative emotions. The in-match highs and lows have started to see a middle ground for Murray which was something he was quite frankly terrible at establishing in the past. 

The losses to Djokovic and Federer at the Australian Open final and the U.S. Open final slowed Murray's progress toward winning his first Slam.

The match on the rainy day in July against Federer did the exact opposite. This match and this failure was not a perpetuation of failure but rather a commencement of long overdue glory. It willed Murray through to the true watershed moment in his career being the Olympics and eventually, the big one, the U.S. Open.

To evoke none other than Michael Jordan...

"I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. "

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