Wow, I gotta start reading the Scotsman – this writer’s hilarious! Read below for a very funny recap of the recent Murray mania in Melbourne and why those haughty top 3 players were right to question the bookies’ wisdom.
MURRAY JUSTIFIES FEDERER DOUBTS
Published Date:27 January 2009
THE notion that Roger Federer is somehow running scared of Andy Murray was left exposed to ridicule in the heat of a Melbourne evening yesterday.The Swiss champion’s surprised reaction to the news that Murray had been installed as a favourite was regarded as churlish in some quarters. In others, though, it was interpreted as clear evidence of the mind games that many like to imagine sports stars obsess over, anxious to obtain whatever advantage they can. Federer, they claimed, was an insecure mess, raging against the dying of a light, and fretting at the fact someone who had beaten him on four previous occasions had also asserted his authority in the betting market.
While Federer probably knew exactly what he was saying, it was not a last act of a desperate man. He had every right to question the sanity of those placing bets on Murray to win – and if it helped his own circumstances, then so much the better.
In fact Federer’s response was exactly that expected of a champion, and contained something of Sir Alex Ferguson’s faux bemusement when having drawn Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez into his web recently. “He’s disturbed,” was Ferguson’s withering comment, after Benitez had rattled on about the Manchester United manager’s methods during a press conference. A haughty, almost dismissive tone, was apparent in Federer’s own response when asked about Murray’s status as bookies’ favourite on the eve of the Australian Open. ‘They’re disturbed’ was the gist of his retort, with reference to those lured into thinking they might cash in on the Scot’s recent run of good form.
The Swiss player’s startled reaction perhaps helped set the doubts racing in Murray’s mind, and he came to an undistinguished end against the hardly stellar Fernando Verdasco. Murray is the only top eight seed to fail to reach the quarter-finals in Melbourne this year.
“He’s the favourite?” asked Federer. It is nice to think an eyebrow had also arched quizzically, as he stroked the US Open trophy on his lap. He is, after all, the most recent Grand Slam winner, having rather easily dispatched Murray in the final at Flushing Meadow in September. That was all he needed to bear in mind, although he could also have asked for a further 12 titles to be taken into consideration. Federer is a serial Grand Slam victor and at 27 years old is wise enough to know how to increase the pressure on his rivals.
He went on to point out that being the bookies’ favourite won’t help the Scot, and so it proved. No amount of wagers can help when Murray, as he pointed out yesterday, is simply outplayed by the better player on the day. Further explaining Federer’s puzzlement, even irritation, at Murray’s strength of backing – he wasn’t, after all, No 1 seed, which is still what matters – is a fragility which the Scot can’t quite shake off, no matter how many photographs of his muscle-bound upper torso are flashed around the world.
Murray should have won yesterday’s fourth-round meeting with his Spanish opponent at a canter if we are to believe those who make such premature claims of greatness on his behalf. But the Scot was out-thought and out-fought, and waned at the end of a five-set encounter. Federer, meanwhile, roared back from two sets down to beat Tomas Berdych at the weekend.
Those who placed wagers on Murray might wish to employ a little more circumspection before the next Grand Slam, at Roland Garros in May. Murray has only reached the quarter-final stage twice in 13 grand slams, a statistic which suggest Federer was within his rights to be taken aback by the news of Murray’s popularity in the streets. He wasn’t alone. Another with reason to feel slightly put out was defending Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic. Even his apparent friendship with Murray could not prevent him sounding aghast at news of the growing belief that Murray was set to win his first Grand Slam title at the expense of those who had earned the right to be ranked ahead of him. “I like him as a person and as a player,” said the Serb. “He’s done a lot in the last couple of months, and he’s a very talented player who we can expect to win some Grand Slams in the future. But you cannot put him as one of the favourites next to Roger and Rafa and myself here at the Australian Open.”
It wasn’t so much a mind game as a simple statement of fact, but it might have planted more seeds of uncertainty in Murray’s head. Here were two of his most obvious challengers scoffing at the notion he was about to tame them. Rafa Nadal was conspicuous by his silence on the subject, but his opinion is unlikely to have differed much from that of Federer and Djokovic. He might also have fought to conceal a smirk yesterday when Murray’s claim to be a great pretender wilted in the heat. The Scot’s day in the sun will come – just not yet. And not while Federer et al prove themselves to be such wily customers.
Click here for the entire article, including a rundown of all of Murray’s biggest losses. Makes me happy that I live in obscurity – at least my failings aren’t reviewed in detail for the world to read! (Although I guess that’s what the comments section is for. . .so go ahead and tell me how wrong I was!)