Wimbledon final preview: Federer vs. Murray
By Devang Desai
Vancouver – The United States has defeated Canada to take home the gold at the 2010 Winter Olympics. Sidney Crosby - Canada’s selection for the one-on-one spectacle - couldn’t deal with American Zach Parise. Tonight, a nation weeps.
Yes, I referenced hockey in a tennis article. No, I’m not a troll. This poor analogy is the best -I use the word liberally- way to describe what faces Andy Murray on Sunday. Where the Canada comparison fails is expectations. We expect to win hockey tournaments. It’s the opposite in the UK, where perpetual losing has given us dry, sarcastic humor and crushing cynicism.
Fred Perry was a badass. He’s the only person to win a major tournament in both tennis and table tennis. Perry’s foe in three grand slam finals - Gottfried von Cramm – was imprisoned by the Nazi’s for being a homosexual. He left the UK for the United States in the late 1930s after voicing displeasure with the All England Tennis Club's emphasis on status and class. Put simply, he was an extreme badass. Fellow players recognized Perry’s all world game, but didn’t care for the man himself. Jack Kramer claimed the Stockport native was an opportunist and egotistical person. Kramer would also refer to Perry as the “world’s worst good player” – a truly amazing backhanded compliment.
He’s also the man Andy Murray has been asked about since the Scot was 14. An American journalist asked Murray if Perry would ‘benedict’ his win on Sunday to which Murray responded "I don't understand, he's not even alive anymore." I don’t understand either. Benedict?
On Sunday, Murray will battle Perry, history and an entire nation’s tendency to anticipate failure. Oh, and Roger Federer.
The Swiss Maestro’s route to the final was anything but convincing. A narrow five set comeback win against French journeyman Julien Benneteau encapsulated what we’ve come to expect from the world number three. It’s not vintage Federer, but it gets the job done against the rank and file of the ATP. But against Djokovic- the current king of the men’s game?
In their first meeting on grass, Federer reminded us why he has six Wimbledon titles. Why he’s never lost in a Wimbledon semi-final. Why it’s ridiculous to overlook one of the greatest champions sport has ever seen. There were reasons for concern. Coming into the match Federer had never beaten a world number one in grand slam play. Djokovic dismantled Federer at Roland Garros two weeks earlier. It didn’t matter. After Federer’s stunning victory over Djokovic in Paris one year ago he defiantly wagged his index finger – an indication he wasn’t done just yet. Friday’s celebration was muted in comparison. As John McEnroe put it - he expected to win this one.
With a victory Federer will tie Pete Sampras for Wimbledon Championships with seven. He’ll also regain the number one ranking and inch closer to the Sampras record for weeks in the top slot. And though he won't admit it publically, this may be the 16 time grand slam champion's last shot at another Wimbldeon title.
For Murray, sporting immortality is at stake. The best player never to win a major is a title he would like to relinquish. He’s a Scot when he loses and a Brit when he wins according to the London tabloids. A victory over Federer will do well to end the Murray sniping that’s made its way to the players’ lounge if you believe Tommy Haas.
Best shot versus last shot. Who ya got?