Olympic gold medals in Tennis don’t matter that much. But when you’re Andy Murray, 0-4 in Grand Slam finals throughout your career, and especially with the final against Roger Federer and taking place at Wimbledon, it means much more than it usually does to other players.
Roger Federer won’t retire with a golden career grand slam, like Rafael Nadal has. No matter. The big picture is always about the Grand slam titles. No one really remembers who won gold in the Olympic games, even if it does have an effect on the ATP rankings. It’s about how it blends in with the rest of the season, and gives you the momentum to win at the US Open. Do you think Rafael Nadal was pleased when 2008 ended about losing at the US Open but winning the gold medal in Beijing?
Was it a perfect match from Andy Murray? Far from it. But Roger Federer, probably less than 100% throughout the week, with his back problems coming back to haunt him due to playing both singles and doubles, something an old man such as himself apparently can’t do that well anymore, just couldn’t take advantage of Murray’s mistakes, with the most blatant stat being Federer’s 0-9 on break points. Blowing chance after chance, no wonder it turned out to be 6-2, 6-1, 6-4.
Injured or not, Djokovic at his best or not, it shouldn’t matter to Murray. He reached the Wimbledon final and the Olympic final by merit. His work with Ivan Lendl is paying off and we’re finally seeing a player who takes initiative when’s it’s handed to him or not. Finally seeing someone who can change momentum of rallies with a cross-court forehand. Someone who’s on the verge of breaking into the top 3 not because the ATP rankings say so, but because he’s close to the level required to beat Nadal-Djokovic-Federer when it really counts.
There’s still the Canadian Masters and the Cincinnati Masters to play, two tournaments Murray has a total of four titles at, but the goal is the US Open. Murray’s gold medal in London won’t mean too much if he won’t be able to capitalize on the momentum he’s built, against a Roger Federer who looks vulnerable again, against a Novak Djokovic who is far from his 2011 form and Rafael Nadal, still resting and nursing his aching body in Spain. This is it for Andy Murray, who needs to grab hold of the opportunity handed to him and created by him at the same time, and finish 2012 as a Grand slam champion.