Tuesday, September 11, 2012

US Open Review : Andy Murray conquers the demons

Time is something that humans think we have a lot, but the longer it goes the less there is of this commodity. This is highlighted within the professional sporting world and the question was not when would Andy Murray win a Grand Slam but if. That question has finally been answered in the positive for Murray.

Before we get onto the weight of Scotland and the UK when he is winning being lifted off Murray's shoulders by being the first British man since Fred Perry in 1936 to win a Grand Slam. This being the US Open means the ridiculous nature of the tournament needs to be highlighted.

Andy Murray 2012 US Open Champ

For a multitude of reasons the US Open is a "clown Grand Slam", yes this might be harsh but there are clear reasons.

3 day first rounds; Having the first 3 round over 3 days is annoying when they do at Roland Garros because it's just a money grab for just a few matches where no real superstars play so it defeats the purpose.

At least Roland Garros start on a Sunday, but no the US Open have to start on a Monday with this nonsense. Since the weather at this time of year in New York is very hot and humid plus in the hurricane season means they are already with a backlog of matches before the poor weather sets in which sets them further behind schedule.

Stupid Saturday: The formal name is Super Saturday but the term "Stupid Saturday" is more apt. Having two men's semi finals best of 5 sets the day before the final is stupid. How it came about was bad weather in the 80s, this was the solution and host broadcaster CBS dictated to the USTA that this was what they wanted and stuff fairness to the players who should have a recovery day in between matches.

Thankfully on a positive note "Stupid Saturday" has ended for next season. For five consecutive years there has been a Monday final, where the ratings for CBS surprise surprise aren't as good as they would be for Sunday. The USTA has to give the CBS money for when the tournament runs overtime.

Since the USTA have more money than sense they should have played the men's semi finals at the same time but they had not even thought of something that would make it better for the players and fans.


5th set Tiebreaks: It's good to be different but once it gets to a 5th set a tiebreaker is not the way to settle the match. That's why players do the fitness, speed and endurance work off the court to get the benefits when they get their opponent to a 5th set. It should come down to winning the match on a break of serve, not just a few lucky points in a crap shoot or penalty shootout.

Bigger is not always better: Arthur Ashe was a pioneer and a fine player in his day, one of the first players to be involved in forming the ATP but he'd be turning in his grave at the monstrosity that the centre court which has his name to.

Instead of building a stadium that was around 16-18 000 with a sliding roof like they have in Australia and Wimbledon soon to be joined by Roland Garros. The USTA were suffering from the condition known as Short Dick Syndrome (SDA) which meant it spent a ludicrous amount of money on a stadium so big and hideous. This building is the classic SDA, got to have the biggest to make up for a lack of commonsense in other areas. No roof was designed since it would have made it even more expensive than it was and they aren't going to build one.


Enough of the negative and onto the tennis. This years US Open had 10 comebacks from 0-2 down in sets not quite as good as the 2002 Australian Open which had 14 comebacks including Stefan Koubek doing twice and the famous Ivan Ljubicic lose from 6-4 6-4 5-1 40-15 up to Wayne Ferreira. Not sure what was in the air this year, but a combination of the better player starting slowly, choking from the opponent and a lack of fitness contributed to the above the stat.

Grega Žemlja

While not being part of the 10 comebacks. Grega Žemlja created history by being the first Slovenian man to make the 3rd round of a Grand Slam after coming through qualies before losing in straight sets to Janko Tipsarevic. Now there are 3 Slovenes in the top 100, Kavčič, Bedene and Žemlja, yet somehow the Slovenian tennis federation couldn't manage to organise the Ljubljana Challenger this season, when they have their best crop of male players. Incompetence is everywhere.

Growing Pains

Bernard Tomic is the "Chosen One' as the big hope for Australian tennis with Lleyton Hewitt on the way out. Like Hewitt earlier in his career Nard Dog has managed to find himself in a few controversies. Walking off from a Futures event against Marinko Matosevic cause his dad instructed him to do so, taking the piss out of Davis Cup veteran Peter Luczak, tanking the Dallas Challenger after being given a wildcard. The Wimbledon practice incident with Hewitt which has been resolved, the Gold Coast cops with his sports car and then there was the last set against Andy Roddick where he could have been and should have been fined for a lack of effort.

Bernard Tomic

Tomic does have talent, a unique game and something very different about him on the court. The understanding he has on court doesn't reflect well off the court at the moment to the general public, but knowing Australians they'll still support him if he wins consistently they tend to brush off the other stuff.

Pat Rafter told him that his effort was a disgrace and sometimes players need to hear some home truths. Ideally he'd have been dropped from the Davis Cup squad but as poor as he is on clay he is much better than the options hence he keeps his spot and Matosevic gets dropped.


Andy Roddick left the sport as a player after losing to Juan Martin del Potro who is now the Randy Orton of the ATP after retiring Marat Safin before Roddick.

Did Roddick make the most out of his talents? That's the question a player who retires has to ask themselves at the end, did they give their maximum effort to maximise their careers. Roddick won a Slam, reached number 1, made Slam finals and he'll be remembered for the canon serve.

Yes, he could be a total prick on court but would never act like a heel against players of the same standard, he was more like that against lower ranked players. His best work was dealing with stupid tennis journalists, the coverage of tennis is pretty poor at best. If he thought a question was inane and stupid, he'd deal with it very well.


Tomas Berdych

Tomas Berdych continued his recent good record against Roger Federer defeating him handily in the quarter finals. This match highlighted as good as Federer is as a player, he is a step slower and Berdych has the firepower to expose that. There is a bit of feeling in their matches and Berdych was one again slighted after the victory which a journalist compared him to Lukas Rosol needless to say the big Czech was less than amused.

Berdych's run ended in the semi finals against Andy Murray in a match whch was more a mental battle in handling the very strong winds than actual play. That's part of the sport got to handle the elements if not, might as well play all events indoors not like the tennis surfaces haven't been homogenised enough.

After winning the "My Friend the Wind Battle" with Berdych. Murray unlike Berdych isn't someone who hits flat virtually all the time with low net clearance and since he's a better mover needing the shorter quicker steps to adjust he was able to get through it.

Murray has been under so much pressure from the British press to break the Grand Slam drought. The US Open was always the best opportunity for it to happen, one he has always played well there. Two, the hype he gets at Wimbledon from the fortnight tennis press is ridiculous and not such a factor at the US Open.

Childhood friend Novak Djokovic was his opponent in the final, both had watched the Scotland vs. Serbia World Cup qualifier on Friday which was 0-0. The critics out there would say this final wasn't much above that particular match.

Murray and Djokovic matches are unusual in the context that both top players are much better off the backhand side than the forehand. The fact they know each other so well doesn't make things easy, as for the spectators it depends on what type of tennis they like. With the homogenised courts and the US Open has become slower over the previous years to the point where it's medium at best whereas before it was slick.

Murray's Posse

Alex Ferguson and burrr Sean Connery supporting Murray he had the heavy hitters there. As a match it was fairly gruelling Murray was too passive for the most part and Djokovic who had the big let down after losing the 1st set to the point Murray could hit midcourt junk in the 2nd and Djokovic made errors.

Djokovic lifted his game and Murray continued to be passive and with 10 comebacks from 0-2 down. Djokovic was trying to do the Gaston Gaudio as the last man to come back from 2 sets down to win a Slam. Murray was moaning about the jelly legs and the lactic bear was mauling him to ground

After getting the early break in the 5th he got rid of the lactic bear and was attacking on the backhand side and Djokovic was just defending and defending. That's how many of their matches are relying on their outstanding defensive skills to win instead of Murray being more proactive in rallies and Djokovic using the backhand down the line to open the court up. They aren't going to blast each other off court.

Not even Djokovic taking a suspicious injury timeout at 5-2 in the 5th could prevent Murray from serving out the match and was relieved more than over the top celebration. The handsome Ivan Lendl dropped the Easter Island statue pose for a moment. It's good that all the Slams were won by different players, it's too early to say it's a changing of the guard.

Time was running out for Murray but thankfully he was able to take this opportunity and win a Grand Slam which he deserved. No, it's not tainted and it's in the book no one can take that away from him. As Murray is a Grand Slam champion he is British and not a miserable Scottish git, that's one thing that doesn't change over time. Scottish when they lose and British when they win.


shank said...

Good stuff.

organisation is a joke. at least stupid Saturday is dead.

great to see Muzzard shed the nearly man tag

rocketassist said...

CBS outdid themselves after all their clowning, with the players getting all of 10 seconds to speak.

Was a USO that will be remembered not just for Muzza's slam but Roddick's career ending and some epic early 5 set comebacks.

You know when Brad Gilbert's talking sense there's definitely something wrong and his suggestion that 3 days start on the Sunday and Friday semis are the ideal solution.

Foot Soldiers of Tennis said...

Can't agree enough on the points about slow surfaces. ATP has players good enough to hit winners - let them actually hit the things without being slowed down by glorified puddings.

Marc said...

Excellent article and summed up everything that is wrong with the US Open before moving onto the important stuff congratulating Murray finally winning a Slam.

Yes, it's a dark day when Brad Gilbert is making sense.