Thursday, July 14, 2016

What a difference competition makes

After Andy Murray's second Wimbledon singles title, won at a time when no other Briton had managed to win even one Wimbledon singles title for decades and no British male tennis player had won a Grand Slam singles title for three quarters of a century before Murray's 2012 US Open win, it would not have occurred to me for a second that anyone in their right mind could deny him the description of being a great tennis player.

So I nearly fell off my chair when I saw the article in The Economist titled

Great Scot: in any other era Andy Murray would have been recognised as a tennis great."

"Who on earth suggests he isn't?" I asked myself.

Well, in terms of British tennis he certainly is, but supposedly in this day and age to be "great" you have to win rather more than the three Grand Slam titles which Andy Murray has so far achieved.

Really cannot say I agree with that, having observed while watching Wimbledon the sort of skill, consistency and determination required to win even one.

Where the article does have a point is that Murray, the best British player of the past century, has managed that eminence despite his career coinciding with those of three of the most talented men ever to pick up a tennis racket; Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have each won a dozen or more Grand Slam singles titles, a feat matched only by Pete Sampras among male players.

You wonder what Andy Murray's trophy cabinet would look like had his career come at a time when the level of competition was not quite so incredible.

And yet I cannot bring myself to regret that the level of skill displayed by rival players is so high. It might have been easier for Andy Murray had his opponents not been so good, but the quality of these players is great for the sport. That level of competition has probably inspired everyone to become better. And the fact that Andy Murray's grand slam wins have included victories against players as brilliant as Roger Federer makes them all the more truly special.

No comments: