Sunday, December 12, 2010

Looking Back - Melbourne

It shouldn't be hard to guess that this was my absolute favourite result of the year. There are few things that make me more gleeful than the sight of Roger Federer kissing a Grand Slam trophy.

It seems a long time ago now, the Australian Open. The next one is right around the corner, and here's hoping we have a repeat result! But the ripple effect of this tournament was felt throughout the year - not so much for Federer, I think, who didn't really play this well again until after Wimbledon, but for a few other players, this tournament was massive.

This was about the midpoint of Rafa's 'slump' (note inverted commas), and it certainly wasn't his best tournament of the year... which might have had something to do with the fact that he was a bit injured. However, he did play some excellent tennis, and those two sets he played against Andy Murray were highly interesting stuff. It'll be interesting to see how he backs up at the tournament in 2011, presumably uninjured and with the wind of success firmly at his back.

But let's talk Murray, because I think this was where his year was set. Once again, he got to a Slam final. And this time, it was clear he expected himself to win. And he was absolutely humbled - totally brought low - by the might of Roger Federer. And even now, I don't know if he has fully recovered from that.

Oh, he's beaten Federer since. He's had some good results - you don't get to be the guy that played Rafa tight like that in London without a bit of something going on. But at the Slams this year, Murray has looked spectacularly unconvincing. For so long, everyone has said that it's only a matter of time until Andy gets a Slam. This year... we started to doubt that. And those seeds were planted in Australia.

Murray played some fantastic tennis. I will never forget that passing shot he hit against Cilic that totally got him back into that match. But that final - and, in particular, that tiebreaker - broke him and did some bad damage to his psyche. Whether or not he recovered from that is anyone's guess. I don't think he has - and I don't think he will until such time as he manages to lift a Slam trophy over his head. Recovering from doubt like that... well, it's not going to happen overnight. Or even overyear.

The other two semi finalists ended up being spectacular non events this year. Tsonga was injured and Cilic... well, I don't know where he went.

The tournament was Federer's, of course, and I could gush for a long time about how happy it made me. But I won't. I will just say this - the world is a lovely place when he has a trophy in his hands. It is, somehow, intrinsically right.

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