Andy Murray, tennis phenom, debatably sportsman of the year

BY DYLAN GORDON ’14
Contributing Writer

You probably read the title of this article and thought to yourself, “Why is this kid writing about tennis? All four grand slams have come and gone and this is the sport’s offseason.” However, I came across an article the other day that proposed Andy Murray should be the sportsman of the year, and I was left with two strong emotions. First, I was baffled Charles Barkley wrote the article, and, more amazingly, I couldn’t believe I was in agreement with something Barkley had said.

Let me first begin by saying I am completely biased in what I am about to write. Andy Murray has been my favorite player for as long as he has been on tour and I have followed him ever since he was a teenage sensation. That’s not to say I’m going to overpraise him and compliment him endlessly, but I figured it would only be just to state the truth.

As you may know, Andy Murray won both the U.S. Open and an Olympic Gold this year, a miraculous feat for any top-five player, let alone someone who has never won a Grand Slam before. But before Murray won the U.S. Open I’m sure you caught glimpse of his heartbreaking defeat in the Wimbledon Finals to Roger Federer.

In that final, Federer clearly outplayed Murray, and even though I do not like Federer as a person, I must give credit where credit is due. While Murray may have lost the match and the opportunity to end Great Britain’s 76-year Grand-Slam-Championship drought, he did what very few people are capable of doing: in a heart-wrenching speech, Murray let his emotions genuinely pour out as he thanked his fans for their continuous support. Crying throughout the speech, he reached the hearts of people across the world, whether they were Murray fans or not.

So should Andy Murray be the sportsman of the year just because he gave an authentic, touching speech? No, absolutely not. Rather, he should win the award because of what he did next. After coming so close but falling to Federer in that Wimbledon Final, Murray felt he let all of Great Britain down. And sure, it would have been really easy to lose mental focus and toughness in the months following the most important match of his life, but he didn’t.

Instead, Murray clawed his way into the Olympic Final, just a few weeks after losing to Federer in the Wimbledon Final. Guess who his opponent was this time? Federer again. Unwilling to disappoint his home crowd once more, Murray found another gear as he crushed Federer in straight sets. Sure, it wasn’t Wimbledon, but that’s not what the headlines said. Murray had won for himself and his fans, but most importantly, he won for his country. That was the greatest prize, after all.

If the Cinderella story ended here, it would be a really good one. Yet, I must ask you to keep reading. Despite having expended so much physical and mental energy on the Wimbledon and the Olympics, Murray clinched a spot in the U.S. Open finals. With this great opportunity, however, came the additional pressure to end the 76-year Grand-Slam-Championship drought for Great Britain. And you know what? History was made that day as Murray upset Novak Djokovic in a thrilling match. Murray had done what seemed like the impossible: rebound after losing the most important match of his life and then winning Olympic Gold and the U.S. Open for the country that faithfully stood by him through his ups and downs.

And yes, I’ve also stuck with Murray through his peaks and valleys, and perhaps that is why I feel he is now so deserving of the sportsman award. But aside from my bias, Murray accomplished this year what very few athletes will accomplish in their lifetimes and he did it carrying all the pressure in the world. He has my vote for sure.

Questions? Email Dylan at dgordon@fandm.edu.

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