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Tennis

Andy Murray’s Breakthrough Season

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Andy Murray said that no one had ever spoken to him the way Ivan Lendl did

Andy Murray has survived two harrowing experiences in his young life. The first was a shooting spree when he was a nine-year-old student at Dunblane Primary School. The second, less traumatic but still daunting, was carrying the burden of a country’s expectations.

Britain hadn’t produced a grand slam tennis title winner since Fred Perry in 1936. There was pressure on Murray to correct this. The Scotsman did it on Monday by winning the US Open in New York. He defeated Novak Djokovic in a bruising final lasting nearly five hours.

The US Open win, watched by famous countrymen Sean Connery and Alex Ferguson, capped a breakthrough season for Murray. Earlier, he won the Olympic gold at Wimbledon, beating Djokovic in the semis and a dude called Roger Federer in the final.

Murray reached his first grand slam final at the 2008 US Open. He lost in straight sets to Federer. No one minded. It was his first big final and it was excusable to lose.

But then Murray lost three more major finals. In two of them, his resistance was meek and his behaviour absurd. He ranted and abused his own support group. It seemed he did not have the heart to win a big tournament. Then he hired a dude called Ivan Lendl.

Lendl himself dealt with big match issues early in his career. But no one then worked as hard as him. Eventually, he won eight major titles. Lendl is a competitive man. Once, he was about to play a golf match with his daughter. She asked if she could hit practice shots first. He refused. Such a man was not going to take nonsense from his protégé. Murray said no one had ever spoken to him the way Lendl did. And thus emerged the current US Open champion—a dude called Andy Murray.