Andy Murray’s victory over Roger Federer secured him a well-earned Olympic gold medal on Sunday and the Scot should, and no doubt will, revel in his achievement. A month after the disappointment of going so close to a first Wimbledon title, he returned to the same court against the same man and this time, he was absolutely supreme.
It takes a heck of a performance to crush Roger Federer in straight sets but Murray, on the biggest stage and with a nation cheering him on, produced it and then some. His run of nine straight games took the match away from the Swiss and for once Federer looked every one of his years. That Murray went so close to winning a second gold will have annoyed him because he hates losing but his efforts all week have been supreme.
An Olympic gold – in tennis terms at least – will not match a grand slam title in Murray’s mind. Tennis players will forever be classified according to how many of the big four they won in their careers. But Murray will forever be an Olympic champion and very few players can say that.
Even more importantly, what this will do for Murray’s state of mind and his confidence in the coming months could be the biggest bonus of all. Ivan Lendl told him that the pressure he felt before the Wimbledon final a month ago was the most pressure he will ever feel in his life and all week at the Olympics he has played as if a man free of his shackles, able finally to produce his very best when he needs it. The next time he plays in a grand slam final, the pressure will surely not affect him so much.
The US Open has long been his favourite grand slam event, in terms of the surface and conditions and right now, there has to be a good case for making him the favourite. Beating Djokovic in straight sets and then thumping Federer in three straight sets, back-to-back, is a huge achievement and both those men will know the psychological effect it could have on both them and Murray.
Rafael Nadal is not even certain to play in the US Open after missing the Olympics with a knee injury and though bronze medallist Juan Martin Del Potro may be buoyed by his efforts this week, Murray could not be more confident. Providing he can stay fit and fresh enough for the rigours of Flushing Meadows, that first grand slam title could be his at last.
Oh and if we didn’t know it already, Laura Robson is going to be some player too.