Fresh from his US Open crown last year, Andy Murray headed to Brisbane for the Australian Open hoping to follow up his first ever Grand Slam with a victory Down Under to assert his credentials ahead of another packed year of tennis.
Making a point | Andy Murray looks up to the heavens after beating Ričardas Berankis to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open. (Image | The Telegraph)
Scotsman Murray sailed through the opening rounds, seeing off Robin Haase, João Sousa, Ričardas Berankis, Gilles Simon and Jérémy Chardy in straight sets, before taking on old enemy Roger Federer in the semi-finals.
Having become accustomed to losing against the Swiss when it matters, such as in the 2008 US Open final, 2010 Australian Open final and Wimbledon final last year, Murray instead held his nerve against Federer to take the final set in a thrilling match last week.
A sensational year in men’s tennis is drawing to a close, which has featured four separate Grand Slam winners and once again been dominated by the big four: Novak Djoković, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.
Champion | Novak Djoković lifts the ATP World Tour Finals trophy at the 02 Arena earlier this month. (Image | Yahoo)
With the ATP World Tour Finals having been won by the Serb earlier this month, it is time to look back on how each of the leading lights performed over the calendar year. It has been quite a 12 months after all.
After a record-breaking season last year, it would have been extremely optimistic to expect Djoković to remain at such an auspicious standard.
However, in the early part of the year, it appeared that he may be able to surpass his previous achievements. Particularly when the 25-year-old triumphed at the Australian Open in January, which was arguably the greatest tournament Melbourne has ever seen.
Novak Djokovic saw off the challenges of Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal in two games, comprising ten hours of unmissable tennis
Novak Djokovic’s triumph at the Australian Open cast in stone his reputation as the greatest tennis player in the world. He is, unquestionably, on the crest of a wave, enjoying success after success, title after title. Last year, Djokovic secured victories in the Wimbledon, Australian Open and US Open finals, becoming the sixth male tennis player to win three grand slams in a year. Should Djokovic triumph at the French Open, which will require the Serbian to conquer insurmountable clay expert Rafael Nadal, winner of six of the past seven French Open titles, he would hold all four grand slam titles simultaneously, an extraordinary feat.
Djokovic’s final with Nadal was an epic, weighing in at almost six hours of tennis. The rally played out between the two was one of the most intense scenes of the entire tournament, and a testament to the dominance of both.
Yet Djokovic was the victor, claiming the final set 7-5, after having come from two sets to one down and fended off break points at 5-5 in that epic closing set.
Murray's aggression was clear against Michael Llodra, the Frenchman falling victim to the full power of a fearsome volley from the Scot
Andy Murray is a rather unfortunate individual, when one considers his current position. He is, no matter his quite clearly Scottish background, identity and heritage, Britain’s main tennis hope. The frustrated dreams of an island rest on the shoulders of the 24-year-old, currently the world number four. Thus, whenever it comes around to Wimbledon, and let’s face it, this is the only time most people take any interest in professional tennis, a bubble of hype is created that expands exponentially over the first week, only to pop when Murray bravely loses out in the latter stages. These defeats are often at the hands of the three tennis “greats” of the current crop; Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.
If Murray were to retire now, he would forever be remembered, as Tim Henman was, as the “nearly man.”