Simple answer, yes.
Andy Murray has never had a better opportunity to take home the Wimbledon title than the one he finds himself presented with this year. SW19 saw the biggest shock in a long long time, arguably in it’s history, when reigning champion Novak Djokovic was dumped out of the tournament by American powerhouse Sam Querry in the third round. That result saw Novak’s incredible run of 30 unbeaten grand-slam matches come to a close and ended his hopes of holding all four grand slam titles in a calendar year for the first time in his career. No one could say that Djokovic looked 100% during the match and the man himself said in the post-match press conference that he was not right during the game but refused to comment too heavily on the subject. As disappointing as the Serb’s early exit was for tennis fans hoping for the always exhilarating Murray-Djokovic final, there is no doubt that the eyes of Andy Murray and Swiss Superman Roger Federer will have lit up at the news of Querry’s triumph.
Currently standing on the precipice of the final of the most illustrious grand slam tournament on the calendar are Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Canada’s Milos Raonic and Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych. All four of these men have come through some difficult matches over the course of the tournament and have thoroughly earned their places in the semi finals. Murray is the clear favourite for the trophy having looked at the top of his game thus far. Marriage to Kim and the birth of his daughter Sofia four months ago seem to have mellowed the hard-edged Scotsman and he looks in the best place that he has been in his whole career. More enigmatic than we have ever seen him, playing better tennis than we have ever seen some people would argue, with sound justification, that Andy could have given Novak a serious run for his money should the two of them have made the final.
The only scare that Murray has had in the tournament so far was his quarter final match against Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga which he won 7-6 (12-10), 6-1, 3-6, 4-6, 6-1. It was the first time that Murray had been taken to five sets in a match at this year’s Wimbledon and the first time that his concentration seemed to waiver slightly. He was in a comfortable position after a gruelling first set and a complete domination in the second set but he just seemed to lose his nerve slightly in the third and fourth sets as Tsonga battled back well to take it the distance. In the break between the fourth and fifth sets Murray looked to steel himself against the onslaught of the Frenchman. Murray came out and really took the game to Tsonga, looking far more confident in himself and his own ability. He hit, in the opinion of John McEnroe, one of the best returns in the history of the sport on break point to take his lead in the set to 2-0 and it was clear from Murray’s reaction that it was the little spark of brilliance that he needed to kick on. Murray went on to dominate the fifth 6-1 and set up a semi final against hard working Czech, Tomas Berdych.
Berdych is a very winnable match for Andy Murray if he plays the way that he did in the opening two sets against Tsonga. Berdych has not had the easiest of tournaments so far, having to play on the first people’s Sunday since 2004 and having his Round of 16 match against Jiri Vesely delayed overnight and having to play the fifth set the next day. However, none of this frustration showed in Berdych’s dismantling of 32nd seed Lucas Pouille in the quarter final, winning easily in straight sets. Andy will have to be on top form to make the final but most people will be hoping and expecting him to set up a mouthwatering final against either Federer or Raonic.
Roger had his own difficulties in the quarter finals this year, taken to five sets by Croatian Marin Cilic. Cilic won the opening two sets and it looked as though Federer could be on the ropes but the Swiss dug deep and used all his vast experience and guile, particularly in a brutal fourth set tie break, to pull off a magnificent victory 6-7 (4-7), 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (11-9), 6-3. There will be very few people that don’t want to see a Murray-Federer final, it would be in the interest of the sport as they have played some exceptional tennis in past matches and Roger is looking to make it a record-breaking eighth Wimbledon title and Andy to win his second. Should Raonic overpower Federer in the semi final we can expect some long baseline rallies in the final between the Canadian and Murray. Whoever Andy faces however, assuming he can beat Berdych, he will strongly fancy his chances of becoming the 2016 SW19 champion.
By Nick Clay.
(Images: Metro/Sky Sports/cinemablaze.com)