“WOW!” I said this often today, as I watched the gawky Scot win his first U.S. Open semi-final match in four sets against Rafael Nadal. “WOW!” when Murray out-scrambled Rafa to win a point. “WOW!” when he thumped a backhand down the line. “WOW!” when I realized he was beating Rafa at the things no one beats Rafa at (at least not all at once, and two days in a row): defense, tenacity, and hitting improbable winners. I’m still thinking about the second to last point of the match: Rafa sent a screaming inside out forehand skidding into the far corner of the court, and Murray still managed to get the ball back.
Unlike Roger, Murray’s not handsome or sweet, and his game is not a thing of pure, aesthetic beauty. But like my favorite player, Andy plays brilliant, one-of-a-kind tennis. Those loopy shots that I never understood before today, that backhand he can bend at will, the soft hands that allow him to do the impossible (remember the crazy stab he made towards the end of the match, returning a blazing down-the-line shot that should have been Rafa’s winner?) – Murray doesn’t play the kind of tennis I can just admire and appreciate. He plays the kind of tennis that I crave.
So I’m thrilled that I get to see more of it on Monday, when he meets Roger Federer in the U.S. Open final. It’s too bad that I still want Roger to win!
Image: REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz