Andy Murray was recently victorious in the Olympic men’s singles final, overcoming Argentine Juan Martín Del Potro in four sets. He is the first male singles tennis player to win two Olympic gold medals, and he has managed to win both in consecutive Olympics. Even with Murray having played his quarter-final, semi-final, and final matches over three consecutive days, he seemed to have a demeanour of fitness and stamina, traits that seemed to benefit him overall in the final. Clinching the final set 7-5 after a powerful forehand forced Del Potro to slice into the net, he has now won two consecutive major titles, winning in Rio a month after becoming a double Wimbledon champion.
Murray won his opening two matches in Rio without dropping a set, with Serbia’s Viktor Troicki and Argentina’s Juan Mónaco respectively dispatched. With future finalist Del Potro winning his match with 12 time grand slam victor, and world number one Novak Djokovic in the opening round, Murray seemed to be the favourite for the title, as he was now the highest ranked player in the competition and had yet to drop a set. In the third round, he won versus Fabio Fognini, before two games in as many days saw him win his match with Steve Johnson and world number seven Kei Nishokori. En route to the final, Murray won in straight sets three times, and had won 80% of his sets by a margin of 6-3 or lower. It seemed as though Murray was in form, and tennis fans may have thought he may win the match with Del Potro convincingly.
With Del Potro ranked at 141 in the world, Murray seemed to be the favourite; his superior ranking of number 2 in the world, along with having won three times as many grand slams, may have suggested his victory was inevitable. Del Potro had got to the final by beating Djokovic in the opening round, and en route had won a semi-final versus former world number one Rafael Nadal in three sets. In the final, he seemed to start strongly, winning two games on Murray’s serve in the opening set, before clinching the second set 6-4. At 1 set apiece, it seemed that either player could win the match, yet the third set seemed to be comfortably won by Murray in 36 minutes, which may have motivated him to win the match overall. In the fourth, and ultimately final set, Murray edged a 72 minute set 7-5. Overall, Murray served 10 aces in the final, and had hit 46 winners.
Murray seems to be performing at the highest level of his capabilities; in 2016, he has reached the final of three grand slams, with a victory at Wimbledon, and this has elevated him to fourth on the all-time top tennis earners. The Olympic gold adds to a seemingly already accomplished year. The British number one may be able to use this success to elevate his playing ability, and drive on to win further grand slams and Olympic medals. This seemed to occur when he won his first Olympic gold in London 2012; in the following grand slam in the US, Murray emerged victorious. His victory in Rio seems to imply he may be able to compete with the best players on the tennis tour, and is capable of being successful in these matches.
Murray may have played at his peak abilities in the final, and has now added another medal to his ever-increasing repertoire. With three grand slams, 39 ranking titles, and now two Olympic golds, he seems to be an already accomplished athlete, and may be setting himself up for a yet still further successful future. He has now set a record, and may be amongst the favourites in the upcoming US Open. His success may motivate other British tennis players to achieve their own successes, as it seemed to during the Davis Cup quarter final victory over Serbia, where teammate Kyle Edmund won both of his single match ties. Ultimately, his gold medal contributed to team GB’s position at second in the overall medal table, and may act as a further catalyst for other accomplished athletes to add to Britain’s repertory.
What other titles may British tennis players win?