Hello lovelies! Apologies for my long absence. Life keeps getting in the way of my cyber-existence, and I’ve been going through some massive (but positive) changes in my life that has required me to be fully focused elsewhere.
But let’s talk Olympics, shall we?
There comes a moment when the expected happens to the expectant, and yet you are still left with a sense of disappointment that there was no miracle to stop it all from unfolding, like a Shakespearean tragedy prematurely foretold by the Chorus.
I have always said, coming into the Olympics final, that there was no way for Federer to win it. Let’s look at the factors in Murray’s favour here:
- Extra motivation after losing Wimbledon despite being up a set.
- Considerably less pressure: rather than being the sole hope of nationalistic glory in a grand slam, Murray at the Olympics is simply part of a bigger scheme – a ‘Team GB’ working towards a group medal tally. Since he is hardly the British poster child of the Olympics, much of the attention was directed away from him.
- A 31 year old opponent coming off a 4.5 hour match.
- A net that was decidedly British.
If you didn’t think Murray could and would win the Gold medal, then … you clearly didn’t think much of Murray.
Still, all credit to Murray, he had to play a calm and self-assured match and execute his game plan to come through. From the very start, Murray looked sharp, using his forehand to manoeuvre Federer around the court. In previous meetings, Murray’s serve has been a liability during key moments, for once last Sunday – it wasn’t. And it was hard not to feel some sort of redemption on Murray’s behalf as he climbed into his box in victory last Sunday, screaming: “I did it! I did it! I FINALLY won a grand- gold medal and I can’t believe … it’s not butter!”
On a less serious note, the biggest question now for Murray is whether the gold medal could potentially become his shortcut to grand slam glory. There was a poignant moment during the 2010 Australian Open trophy ceremony, when a teary-eyed Ahndee apologised to the British public back home, “sorry I couldn’t do it for you“. Despite his insistance over the years that domestic pressure wasn’t the cause of his grand slam failures, it was a telling statement that Murray felt as if he was playing a grand slam final for the folks back home rather than for himself. Indeed, it was a statement that you could not imagine Roger, Rafa or even the more fiercely nationalistic Satan making.
But does it take the pressure off Murray, now that he has finally won something for his country? Does it mean that he goes into future grand slams playing solely for himself and his own pride, and not that of his country? Does it make a difference, now that he has finally beaten a top opponent in a best of 5 set final?
Or will Murray ultimately be known as the Elena Dementieva of the ATP?
As for Federer, he conceded post match that he felt as though he won silver, rather than lost gold. The problem is that he won silver when he took out del Potro in the match of the year. By the time the final came around, Federer was playing like a man running on an empty tank, physically and emotionally spent.
I said pre-match that I’d prefer nothing over a silver or bronze, not because I don’t consider silver or bronze an achievement. They are – for someone who doesn’t have 17 grand slams and almost every record in tennis.
For those with less human accolades, a silver or bronze adds very little to their legacy, and instead becomes a constant reminder of what would never to be. And let’s face it – London was Federer’s last realistic chance. In the unlikely event that Federer is still playing tennis by the time Rio comes around, the tournament would most likely be played on clay.
And so it would remain a poetic cruelty that the man who achieved almost everything in tennis would miss out on sport’s most universal prize – an Olympic gold. But in a way, Federer already knew the inevitable, going into the final.
There was a moment lost in the commotion of his win over del Potro, when Federer pulled up his shirt and kissed the Swiss flag underneath the collar. It was an understated, quiet moment amidst the violent cheering and standing ovation coming from the crowd, but it was a moment of revelation: right then and there, Roger Federer knew he had given it all. And he had won silver.