That Novak Djokovic's record-breaking, match-winning streak lives to see another day is cause for applause and admiration.
Not solely for the hard work and time that has been put into reaching the level of excellence he is currently at but also for the presence of mind that has kept him steady at these heady heights.
The semifinal match that he played against Murray has a strong case for match of the year and it's no surprise—such was the quality. Such was the quality from BOTH men.
Evident from the start of the year has been a consistency in Djokovic that he previously wasn't known for, a tenacity that belied his character of being a "djoker" and a doggedness that wouldn't accept failure as an answer.
What has gone unnoticed though, is the amount of talent that he has actively converted to ability. When Djokovic burst onto the scene in 2007, his talent was there for all to see. Winning his maiden Grand Slam title at the Australian Open the very next year was proof. He has since gone on to become the second-best player in the world and is currently challenging the No. 1 for his title.
Andy Murray's results though haven't been anything near as spectacular—he's beaten Nadal and Federer on occasion, and he's won a few titles here and there—but when it has counted, at the Grand Slam events, he hasn't shown up.
The Question of Talent?
I've always being a follower of the idea that achievements aren't the best indicator of talent. Examples abound that validate this view.
French tennis player, Richard Gasquet, touted to become a great player at a young age, has been widely regarded as possessing the best backhand in the game, and the current Rome Masters put it on show for all to see—but Federer's backhand has won him more titles than Gasquet's ever will.
Andy Roddick had and still has one of the best serves in the world, but it's only gotten him the one Slam title.
Guillermo Coria was one of the most exciting exponents of the clay court game over the last decade—but he never materialized.
Marat Safin was one of the most talented athletes to ever set foot on a tennis court, but he achieved a whole lot less than was expected.
One may then question this school of thought and say "well, if achievements aren't the best indicator of talent; what is?"
Personal experience is the answer. In essence, what you know the person is capable of—judging from what you've seen.
So, is it feasibly possible that Andy Murray is more talented than Novak Djokovic? Their head-to-head might not favor Murray, their achievements might not match up and their placing in the tennis hierarchy may be miles apart—but are these really the be all and end all?
What I saw tonight—on Murray's worst surface—left me even more convinced of Murray's talent. What conviction were you left with?
Andy Murray's Slump
Despite losing yesterday's tightly fought match against Djokovic, Andy Murray feels that his slump is over.
Speaking yesterday after the match, he said: "The crisis I was in, supposedly, is over. I feel I'm playing great tennis again. I can compete with those guys, I need to play that well and better if I want to win the French Open, and I need to get fitter over the next days."
"This definitely gives me confidence. Your tennis never goes away, I've been in the top four players in the world for four or five years now. I was on a bad run, mentally I wasn't in the best place, but my tennis is never going to go away."
"When I have intensity and the right attitude like I have had the last few weeks, I will definitely be at the top again. I didn't feel at any stage in crisis, I just needed to snap out of the mental state I was in and I would come out stronger. Now I feel fresh going into the French Open."
Speaking on the ranking race, he said:
"I'd be sure he [Djokovic] will do it, if he doesn't get it he would have to have a poor French Open and Wimbledon because Rafa won both [last year] so I would expect him to get that."
"It's obviously a great run he's on, I'm just disappointed with myself, I should have ended it. I had my chance, that's it. It will be tough for anyone to match a run like that but it's going to be very tough for him to get going [in the final]."