• Chris Wilkinson

London 2012 offers Murray a chance of redemption

Chris Wilkinson July 10, 2012
Andy Murray is getting closer to his first grand slam title © PA Photos

Andy Murray's wait for a grand slam title goes on, but he is getting closer. The way he came out firing from the first ball against Roger Federer was hugely impressive, and when he won the first set, I think the whole nation believed he could do it.

It was difficult for him after Rafael Nadal lost in the second round, but he handled the pressure and stepped up. Playing in front of an expectant home crowd in his first Wimbledon final you would have expected him to be nervous but if anything it was Federer who was on edge to start with.

Murray deservedly won the opening set and had his chances in the second but just couldn't take them and that proved to be costly as Federer just got better and better as the match went on.

I was sat behind the Royal Box and you could really see the slice Federer was putting on the backhand and the variety of shots he was playing on the forehand was just incredible to watch.

The break to shut the roof came at the perfect time for Murray to allow him to regroup after losing the second set, but equally the decision to close the roof favoured Federer as the court played a quicker and that suited his game.

When they resumed play under the roof Murray was on the back foot from the word go and wasn't able to get back into the match as Federer turned on the style.

Murray must be wondering what he has to do to break his duck, but he is definitely getting closer. He is getting more used to playing the big matches and definitely played with more intent and aggression than previous finals.

He likes to hit the cross court forehand and against Federer I think a few more forehands down the line would have been better. His serve has definitely improved - we saw that against David Ferrer - but at the crucial moment against Federer his first serve percentage began to dip and that proved costly.

It is just unfortunate for him that he is playing in an era with three of the greatest players of all time. I still firmly believe that it is only a matter of time that Murray will win a slam and Sunday's performance confirms that belief.

"In my eyes Roger Federer is the greatest player of all time - what he has achieved is nothing short of phenomenal"

Although he will be hurting now he will be able to look back on his performance and take a lot from it. The way he conducted himself afterwards will have done him no harm. Opinion is very divided on Murray and a lot of people slate him for being grumpy and not showing enough emotion, but he was clearly devastated, and his behaviour during the speeches will have won a few more people over.

I said Wimbledon would give us a chance to assess whether Ivan Lendl was really making an impact as Murray's coach, and while I am still not convinced looking at his results, you can definitely see that he is more aggressive. It is a difficult thing to gauge but perhaps after the next couple of months we will be able to see what Lendl has added to Murray's game, not just physically and tactically, but mentally how he bounces back from this latest setback will be interesting.

He will be back at Wimbledon in a few weeks for London 2012 and that will be a big chance for him to move on from this disappointment. It could be that returning to the All England Club will get it out of his system and he could be really fired up for the Olympic tournament but, on the other hand, it may be just a little bit too soon to return to the scene of such painful memories and he may struggle.

Equally, I think it will be tough for Federer to reproduce the kind of tennis he did this last fortnight. He is back at the top of the world rankings and ended a two-and-a-half year major title drought - winning the 17th grand slam that many thought he would never win.

I think his latest win is one of his greatest performances - to regain the No. 1 spot when Nadal and Djokovic have taken tennis to a whole new level after so many had written him off. In my eyes he is the greatest player of all time - what he has achieved is nothing short of phenomenal.

He is the new world No. 1 and is the best player in the world. When you look at his results over the last eight months or so he has won eight titles since October so he deserves to be back at the top of the pile.

Roger Federer is the new world No. 1 © Getty Images

For Nadal, he just has to write off his defeat to Lukas Rosol as a freak result and get back to winning ways. Finding his feet on the grass was always going to be tough after winning the French Open and he was just unfortunate to come up against a player who was playing out of his skin.

He'll be taking a few weeks off now to rest his knees and it will be interesting to see if he is ready for the Olympics.

Djokovic's biggest problem is that he is playing against his performances last year - to replicate what he delivered in 2011 was virtually impossible and he has lost some of his belief. Mentally he struggled against Federer and just didn't seem to have anything in reserve to get him through. From his point of view he has slightly lost that edge but he is still a great player.

Much like Federer, Serena Williams showed what a great champion she is by coming back to win Wimbledon after her health scares. She beat some really tough opponents and came through some gruelling three set matches so her fitness is clearly no longer an issue. It's great for the women's game that she is back to her best and it means the others are going to have to pick up their games a little bit more.

Finally, huge congratulations to Jonny Marray on becoming the first British man to win the men's doubles at Wimbledon since 1936. His story really is a fairytale. He was the last man in the draw - he got bumped out but then he was offered a wildcard and was told he could play with whoever he liked, so he invited Freddie Nielsen whose grandfather was a singles finalist at Wimbledon back in the 1950s.

Nielsen usually plays on the backhand court but happily played on the deuce court because Marray had gotten him a wildcard. It's great for the fans that we had a British doubles winner and a man in the men's final - and I am so pleased for Marray - it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

Chris Wilkinson is a former British No. 1

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Chris Wilkinson Close
Chris Wilkinson is a former British No. 1, who now serves as a tennis commentator and as a coach for the LTA. He is ESPN.co.uk's resident expert, providing an exclusive view on the world of tennis. Chris Wilkinson is a former British No. 1, who now serves as a tennis commentator and as a coach for the LTA. He is ESPN.co.uk's resident expert, providing an exclusive view on the world of tennis.