"That was sweet," Roger Federer said to Wayne McEwan, tournament referee, shortly after subduing Andy Murray 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(11) in two hours and 41 minutes on Rod Laver arena last night.
With the victory, Raja wins his fourth Australian Open crown and his 16th Slam title, moving his championship accomplishments into a higher stratosphere.
What else can you say about Federer? He played great. He missed the Grand Slam last year by a few games. With Rafa on walkabout, and Fed already slaying his French demons its [sic] not unrealistic to follow this story. Especially when his rivals continue to fall.
The man is approaching 29 and he's proving to be in superior shape against everyone else on tour. When was the last time this guy sprained an ankle? To be this age in his tennis career and not really miss any time for injuries is remarkable. I used to doubt his boasts that he could go into his mid-30s, but really he looks just as fresh now as he did at 22.
I think its [sic] impossible to pick a greatest player of all-time, only the greatest of his era, or the greatest 'careers.' Fed is having a career no other male player dared dream. He's 2 slams away from tying [Chris] Evert and Martina [Navratilova]. A player on the ATP could have 18 slams. Laughable. If he gets there by the US Open, wouldn't his attention have to turn to the all-time record, men and women's? Which is, what? 22? I'm being lazy and not looking but he's not stopping.
The Fed storyline in the last year has really come out of a comic book alternative universe plot. After looking mentally broken from the first part of the year after the [Rafael] Nadal defeat his biggest rival, a man some were ready to proclaim as the better player goes down with injury and mental fatigue. The result has been Federer's wonderland.
I wonder if whoever is writing this decides its [sic] time to reintroduce the Nadal character into the storyline? I know many of the book's readers think so.
I love it when someone else does my work.
For me, I hoped the match would go five sets, but I always believed it would be over in three. Thus, the "ass on a silver runner-up platter" prediction. The outcome was just never in doubt. Yes, Murray put up a fight to not go down two breaks of serve in the second set. Yes, Murray played some great tennis to get a break midway though the second set, but it took a string of errors from Raja to even get the chance. Yes, the 24-point tiebreak was dramatic, with the outcome of the set in doubt as the score teetered from set point to championship point.
But the outcome of the match was never in doubt. Even if Murray had won the tiebreak, we knew Raja would win the fourth. Even when Murray served for the third set at 5-3, we knew he wouldn't close.
Why? Because despite all the childish and brotherly mind games the players indulged in before the match, Murray openly admitted that he's not trying to win Slams for himself. Despite my belief that he simply doesn't possess the requisite weaponry to win a Slam, there's simply no way the mindset expressed in this exchange is going to produce a champion.
Q. Is there any extra motivation for you to know that you could be the one to break a long Grand Slam drought for Britain?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I mean, I'd obviously love to do it. It's not really the only reason, you know, that I want to win a slam. I want to win it, you know, obviously for the people that I work with, for my parents and stuff, who obviously helped me when I was growing up, then doing it for British tennis and British sport would be excellent, as well.
But, you know, the pressure that I feel doesn't come from the people that are around me. They obviously are happy with anything that I do. But, you know, I want to win for them first.
It's one thing to read this exchange, it was quite another to witness it on television. Murray's body language and countenance betrayed a sense of resignation. I suppose living your life for other people and not (yet?) being able to find the desire to live for yourself can produce the demeanor he displayed during this exchange.
If Murray is to prove me wrong and mature to a point where he can actually play for himself, develop some weapons, and win a Slam, he's going to need to extract himself from the mental war he's allowed Raja to draw him into. He's going to need to do what Mats Wilander hoped and not "give a shit about Britian."
As for Raja. Having claimed his first major as a father, I suspect he'll win many more. One of his new stated goals is to hoist a trophy when his twin girls are old enough to appreciate their father's triumph. We have no reason to believe he won't stay healthy long enough to achieve it. And we know if Andre Agassi was still winning major titles into his thirties, Raja will also be motivated to improve upon that by winning more.
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