Andy Murray’s gruelling win over France’s Jo Wilfred Tsonga in Friday’s semi-final match has booked him a place in his first Wimbledon final, and the first for a British player since 1938. Murray will walk out on Centre Court in an attempt to gain a maiden Grand Slam title, against a six-time winner at Wimbledon who is widely acknowledged to be the best player that the game has ever seen. Roger Federer brushed aside a lacklustre Novak Djokovic to set up an encounter that will push Murray to the absolute limits of physical and technical ability. With the usual media speculation on the chances of a British Wimbledon winner reaching heights of an unseen proportion, how likely is it that Andy Murray can fulfil the hopes of the nation?
The Centre Court crowd have supported and cheered Andy Murray all the way to the final, and they are unlikely to let up on their backing of the British No.1 seed. Although there has traditionally been a strong current of support for Federer and his cultured, graceful way of playing, it is likely that Murray will be backed by an extremely pro-British, partisan crowd. It is always been the case that the crowds feed off of the palapable passion and determination that Andy Murray exudes when competing on any of Wimbledon’s hallowed courts. Federer is unlikely to be fazed by the support for his opponent; a veteran of so many Slam finals will still gain recognition for the beautiful shot play that always accompanies a Federer game.
Federer is aiming to unseat the legendary status of Pete Sampras’s wins at Wimbledon, who holds the record for the most Men’s singles titles at the British Grand Slam. Otherwise, the Swiss player’s reputation is unprecedented in even the world-class circles. With 16 Grand Slam titles under his headband, and the record of five consecutive Wimbledon titles, Federer’s cool and unruffled demeanour at Finals is likely to be undisturbed and serene in the face of Murray’s relative inexperience of competing in Slam finals. The Scot has shown his capability in reaching three previous Grand Slam finals, occupying the runner-up position at the 2008 US Open, 2010 Australian Open, and the 2011 Australian Open, yet has failed to secure the maiden win that will cement his position in the world’s top four. It is unlikely that this will affect Murray’s thinking though, as his position on Centre court will be a first in this scenario. Lastly, in head-to-head matches, Murray is only down by one match, at 8-7, so playing ability is not noticeably a world apart.
Andy Murray is an obviously physical player; not afraid to get down and dirty to dig out insignificant points, his determination to win every concieveable point matches that of Maria Sharapova, who is well-known for giving her all on every single point. Hence, expect to see Murray, buoyed by the adrenalin accompanying a Wimbledon final appearance, putting in more dives and furthering his exertion for every minute of the match. The downside is that Murray suffers from a larger than average amount of falls and injuries in his matches, which has drawn some notable criticism this year from fellow players. Although there have been few incidents of any lasting consequence, there is always the risk that his antics on Sunday may cause some worrying moments for his fitness coach. Federer is not such an obvious physical presence on the court, relying instead on his footwork and shot play to force his opponent to run around the court. There is also the age factor, with Federer not only tipping thirty, but apparently suffering some back trouble on the way to this final. Although there was no sign of it against Djokovic, there is always the danger that 15 years on the tour will tell on Federer’s performance on Sunday.
Roger Federer is undoubtedly the stronger of the two when it comes to being mentally strong; although it does help being so technically brilliant. Federer has closed out most of the finals that he has ever competed in, of which some have been anything but a walkover. In comparison, Murray is very open with demonstrating his frustration, and often appears to be distracted by small incidents which, although have no overall bearing on the match, nonetheless serve to put the number four seed at a disadvantage. His win against Tsonga could have been almost flawless had he not rested on his laurels against a formidable opponent who was down, but still dangerous. Lapses of attention against Federer are likely to be instantly punished. Although Murray-outbursts prompt the crowd to up their loud and vociferous support, it will serve to alert Federer of the opportunity for exploiting this.
Federer versus Murray: The Winner?
Murray exhibits raw passion, fantastic effort and a determination to get around the court, putting an immense amount of physical force behind his forehand and backhand shots. His use of the soft drop shots and tactical ability is sure to present a challenge to Federer. Yet, the favourite for Sunday has got to be the 6-time champion. Roger Federer makes tennis look easy, with his forehand being his trademark winner. His appearance, demeanour and behaviour on court is impeccable, and Centre Court is his natural home. As a Murray supporter, my hope is with Andy. Realistically, it will be Federer holding up the now-familiar trophy, and surpassing Sampras’s record on Sunday afternoon.