Australian Open 2011: The Ceiling For Andy Murray Is 1
I choose to write this with Djokovic up 3-1 in the third set. This match is officially over and I feel extremely comfortable saying that. Murray will go on to lose his third Grand Slam Final, and most likely in straight sets again.
I felt Djokovic statistically and by the atmosphere going into the Final was going to win, but I did not think Murray would fall as flat as he has. After all, it was the great Federer who bested the Scot in his first two Slam Finals.
Playing on the provincial circuit, I had some veterans tell me the game of tennis is 50 percent body and 50 percent mind. I often question if there's any other sport that has as much a mental weight on the outcome as does tennis.
Being the only active male professional tennis player to hold an 0-3 Grand Slam Finals record and only the third to have that mark at any point in his career since Goran Ivanisevic is one thing, but the way in which Murray has lost these three finals just adds to the punishment his morale must have thus far suffered.
One Slam victory would not take away all of that, even if it was at Wimbledon.
Leading up to this match I read an article that stated Murray knew it would not be his last chance, but now I think, at age 23, how many opportunities will he have?
He has roughly five seasons, counting this year before he hits the wall, and only Federer has showcased a magnificent late bloomer.
How many Slams will Murray win in his career?
I'll be bold and take away the French Open right now as a possible Slam victory. That's 14 more opportunities. Since 08, Murray has also failed to make noise at the U.S. Open.
Now we count the competition before Murray at Wimbledon and Australian Open. Nadal's state of affairs is tied to his health, let's go the satanist route and say he'll be relevant for just three more years. If he's healthy, Nadal will continue to own Wimbledon alongside Federer, and maybe Roddick will kick in.
The U.S. Open is more wide open, but Nadal is the current champ while Federer gave away two match points to reach his 7th final last year. Murray has been unable to duplicate his 08 run to any degree and if I was a betting man I'd say his chances are better at Wimbledon than in Flushing Meadows.
So now what is left, the Aussie Open? Four more opportunities? The Australian Open has, even with vast improvements in participation and public opinion, remained the unpredictable Open.
Perhaps not as much with who the Champion will be, although Safin and Djokovic surprised everyone in their victories against Federer, but many top-ranked players seem to fall earlier than expected here every season.
The hard court at the Aussie is slower than at the U.S. Open and Wimbledon and perhaps that's what gives Murray the slight advantage. His shot-making is quite superb when he's on, but he's not the fastest player on the tour.
I will be bold again here and say Murray wins his one Slam at Wimbledon, perhaps like Hewitt or Krajicek did. It will be an immense high and I think it'll tailspin Murray out of contention for a few Slams.
Then I think it'll be harder with the younger guys coming up, some of which we're probably overlooking at this very minute.
Is it a bad thing? To have Murray be a One Slam " Wonder "? Not necessarily, while Murray may be one of the lucky ones caught in the open door between Federer and Nadal's dominance and the next great one or two, it doesn't mean he has to rack up the Slams.
Not everyone can be Sampras, and not everyone can be Federer. While Murray's friend and adversary Djokovic may not win many Slams himself, Murray has failed to showcase any brilliance to come, at least at the Slams.
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