When Andy Murray first stepped out on the court and I saw the shoes, I knew he was a changed man. I smiled thinking, “Unconventional.” It reminded me of the commercial where the piano falls out the window on the man’s head smashing him to the ground under a pile of wood. After a pause he emerges with a smile on his face saying, “I won again.”
It was a replay of the 2012 Wimbledon a month ago, Roger Federer # 1 seed versus Andy Murray # 8 seed, playing at Wimbledon only this time they are playing in the London Summer 2012 Olympics Men’s Tennis Gold Metal Match.
Murray starts out trying too hard with a lot of tension. He is down 30-15. Lighten up Murray. He’s running good but his first serve is off until the end of game 1 when Murray gains focus. Murray’s first serve of the first game is well executed and has good placement. He wins game 1. In game 2 Federer ace’s Murray and pulls him wide from the far edge of the ad court then back to the outer edge of the duce court but Murray runs. The shoes say it all, “See Andy run.” In game 3, Murray’s first serve is off but he has quick reflexes running the wide angles with ease getting to the ball. A good first serve and his mental game help him to win. At duce in game 4, Federer aces but Murray is quick and nearly gets to the ball. In Game 5 Murray’s first serve is off but he puts good ball placement on his second serve. In Game 6 Murray is up 3 games to 2 and leading 15-30 with Federer serving. All of a sudden Murray’s past starts catching up with him. Federer is at the net and forces Murray to run in for a drop-shot close to the net. Murray gets to the ball but hits a “gentlemanly” ball straight towards Federer’s body. The shot has little energy. The shot is inconsistent with Murray’s culture, pulling his energy. Murray loses that point in disgust but he stays in the game. The game has moved on to the next shot but Murray is still in the past. He lobs to Federer and hesitates thinking he has won the point. “Hey Murray, get back in the game, its Federer’s point.” Advantage Federer. Murray’s past (See my earlier blog) is still haunting him as he misses 2 cross court shots. Both times Federer is standing in Murray’s line of the ball. That, “Nice guy discord” is going on in Murray’s head causing a mis-stroke and slow reflexes. Advantage Federer. “Earth to Andy, Earth to Andy.” In Game 7, Andy Murray’s shoes respond to the call. They get heavy, grounding him back down to earth, pulling him out of his head. Murray is up 2 games (2-4). He goes deep within and comes out with a Sharapova type grunt. That ball goes over the net and places perfectly. Even after Federer’s backhand return comes flying back, Murray aces to win the game and take a 2-5 lead then goes on to win the first set.
In game 1 of the 2nd set, Federer drops a ball close to the net but Murray’s legs are light and moves in with incredible speed. Murray takes a 0-2 lead in the 2nd set. But the energy that it took Murray to win the last game has taken a toll and Murray double faults, still worn out from that last play. The shoes ground Murray again. He goes to the net and plays Federer’s game, jumping, diving, reaching with good peripheral vision. Then Murray gets distracted by his past again, four break points - Murray hesitates as though the point is won. Maybe Federer will not get to the ball in time, but he does. Advantage Federer. Murray’s serve brings the score back to duce. Murray sees Federer’s return coming back across the net, Murray’s shoes say “Run, Murray run,” but Murray’s head hesitates again and Murray does not get to the ball in time. Advantage Federer. Twelve minutes on this point with Murray like the Sancofa Bird, his head looking backward but his feet facing forward. Murray is winning, up 2 games in the 2nd set, but he keeps giving up, “Ready, not ready, ready…” With Advantage and serving, Murray gives up an easy point. “I can, I can’t, I will, I won’t.” Suddenly running wide to get to a ball, Murray’s head connects with his shoes, “I will win, I will win.” He scrambles to get low under the ball and wins the point. That gives him the confidence to place a first serve and finish this game off. Up 0-3 Murray is playing harder, all-the-while the voices in his head are challenging, trying to torment him, “I told you that you could not win… So what you won…” Game 4 of the 2nd set is going in Federer’s favor, but the voices in Murray’s head begin to change as he guts it out with determination, ”I can win, I can win.” Murray battles the dark forces inside him. They wait down a dark alley with a pocket knife but Murray is smart enough not to go down that road. Advantage Murray on Federer’s serve. Again, Advantage Murray on Federer’s serve. As Murray begins to take control of his energy and his thoughts, luck appears to show up on his side. Federer double faults giving Murray the game. Federer’s ball hits Federer lightly in the head and that seems to turn on a light-bulb. Federer starts to play a head game. From far wide to the net, challenging Murray’s speed. “Let’s see how fast you are.” Murray can’t get there. That sends Murray back into his head. he misses his next serve. “Second serve.” Murray’s serve is long. Federer takes a 15-30 lead. Murray’s shoes offer some energy to his head. Murray serves with confidence and authority to take the lead 40-30 and then the game.
Federer aces. Then a second ace. Murray roars with restraint. “Quiet please,” but Murray continues to lunge right and run left. More parts of his body join in to cheer, Murray, Murray. It gets into his head and he continues to win. Murray proudly wears the flag on his arm as he hits his fastest serve pulling Federer off-balance. Murray goes for it again. Ace. “Yeah,” every cell of his body is cheering now and pushing against that door he could never open. Murray kicks the door in to win Gold with an Ace. “We in now.”
Murray wins for all of us who battle against our past. Those little voices that adamantly try to keep us from achieving… until one day we dominate.