Murray makes history
Andy Murray doesn't have the flamboyance of Rafael Nadal. He doesn't have the finesse of Roger Federer either. And he even doesn't have the nerve of Novak Djokovic. Yet what he has -- an unyielding attitude under real pressure and a resilience which often plays on the nerves of his opponents -- has been good enough for him over the years. It has been good enough to earn him three Grand Slam titles, and now it has proved to be good enough to win him two Olympic singles titles, something which eluded not only the 'Big Three' but also the whole legion of tennis players down the years.
On Sunday at the centre court of Rio de Janeiro's Olympic Tennis Centre, the 29-year-old Scot brought out the best of those qualities to deny a surging Juan Martin de Potro from taking the title. The three-time Grand Slam winner was engaged in a battle of attrition for four hours before getting the better of the Argentine in four sets (7-5, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5).
"To finish it with a match like that, it was obviously very emotional," a visibly exhausted Murray told reporters. "The fact it hasn't been done before is, it's a very difficult thing to do. I wasn't thinking about that when I was playing. It hasn't been done before shows it's very hard, so I'm very proud to have done that."
The defending champion had been flirting with danger all through this tournament. During a stretch of six matches in eight days, Murray was pushed to the brink by Italy's Fabio Fognini in the third round. Then he survived a major scare against Steven Johnson of South Africa in the quarterfinal. His service was poor, Murray admitted. He also had trouble dealing with the wind, he had said after the quarterfinal.
"This had has been much harder than it was in London [2012 Games]. The match in the final there was fairly straightforward. Whereas tonight, anything could have happened," Murray confessed. "I was tired. We played four hours, especially on this surface on a very humid night. There was a lot of running. It was physically hard, and I served badly tonight. I didn't serve well and that made the match even tougher than it was already."
But Murray is not the defending champion for nothing. While his all-round game was not at its best, he used the opposition's weaknesses to good advantage and those points proved crucial in deciding the outcome. "I just had to find a way even though I wasn't serving well, and I managed to get enough breaks of serve. I came up with some good serves at the right moment," Murray explained.