It's about to get very, very loud at Wimbledon.
Murray Mania, which has taken hold of The Championships over the last seven years in honor of the great British hope Andy Murray, is about to be kicked up a notch.
Every year it's fun to watch the British fans and press as they overdramatically attach their hopes and dreams to Andy Murray's fate at Wimbledon. But coming into this fortnight there was a different feeling about the traditional Andy Murray hysteria. It seemed almost justifiable.
After all, Murray made the final of Wimbledon last year for the first time in his career. He won the Olympic gold medal on Centre Court. Most importantly, he won the 2012 U.S. Open, removing the Grand Slam-sized question mark off of his back in the process.
There was a sense around the tennis community that this might be Andy Murray's year to finally win Wimbledon, the trophy he was born to raise. Even British journalist and television host Piers Morgan thought so.
We can hear you, Murray Mania.
Unfortunately, the draw was quite a buzzkill. He was lined up to face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarterfinals and Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer in the semifinals. Maybe this wasn't his year after all. Maybe it just wasn't meant to be for Andy Murray at Wimbledon.
But then, like Moses parting the Red Sea, Murray's draw busted wide open after a string of early-round upsets in the wackiest week in Wimbledon history.
Instead of facing No. 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarterfinals, Murray will face No. 54 Fernando Verdasco. Murray leads the head-to-head matchup 8-1. Sure, Verdasco used to be a top-10 player and even defeated Murray at the 2009 Australian Open, but that was a different time. Verdasco, who just recorded his first three-match winning streak in nearly 14 months, is playing in his very first Wimbledon quarterfinal.
As Jonathan Liew of The Telegraph put it in his modestly titled article, "Fernando Verdasco to save last dance for Andy Murray":
But put it this way: though he would be reluctant to admit it, a week ago, if you had offered Murray a match against Verdasco for a place in the last four of Wimbledon, he would have snapped your hand off.
That's right. Welcome to the semifinals, Murray Mania. No need to hold back.
Here, the path gets even clearer. Instead of meeting a legend of the game and multiple-Wimbledon champion in Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray's guaranteed to meet a maiden Slam semifinalist.
Polish countrymen, No. 130 Lukasz Kubot and No. 22 Jerzy Janowicz, will face off on Wednesday in the other quarterfinal in Murray's half of the draw. Kubot is 31 years old and only started playing in the main draws of Grand Slams three years ago. Janowicz is 22, and while extremely talented, is brand new to the second week of Slams.
Sure, both guys are dangerous players. But they can't squash you with their titles like a Federer or Nadal. You simply couldn't dream up a cleaner path.
In the final, Murray could face Novak Djokovic, the man he beat in the U.S. Open final.
That's right; turn the volume up to max.
To keep the drama at a fever pitch, the Murray Mania Media Machine will continue to hype up the drama. Every grimace, every close set, every semi-dramatic quote will be milked for all it's worth. Consider these headlines from today's straight-set win over Mikhail Youzhny:
From The Telegraph:
Wimbledon 2013: Andy Murray survives scare against Mikhail Youzhny to claim quarter-final place
Murray marches into last eight and British No 1 issues ominous warning to Wimbledon rivals... Nothing will stop me now!
Djokovic might be the No. 1 player in the world and the oddsmakers' favorite for the title, but make no mistake about it: This is Andy Murray's trophy to win or lose. This is his story unfolding before us, echoed through the tabloids, papers and television specials.
It has been an upset-laden two weeks, and Andy Murray is surely not getting ahead of himself. But Murray Mania is. There's simply no stopping it.
It might be a good idea to invest in some earplugs.
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