Roger Federer got some mild rebukes for his comments during his last press conference when he said that Great Britain had been waiting “150,000 years” for another Grand Slam champion when it reality it’s only been 74 years. Even if Fed’s math is a little off, he’s spot on when discussing the excruciating pressure Andy Murray faces to not only win a tennis match, but to validate a nation.
A recent article in the Telegraph UK bemoaned the nation’s woes of not having a Grand Slam champion since Fred Perry. If Murray wins, it will be curious what the UK does as a reaction, i.e. declare a bank holiday, give him a royal wedding style parade, etc.
On the other side of the net, Roger Federer probably goes into this match with less pressure than he’s faced in a long time. Sure he wants to win, but if he doesn’t will it matter now that he’s won the French Open and Wimbledon, eclipsing Pete Sampras’s mark of winning the most majors? Murray, if he loses, will face the drumbeat of “he can’t win a big one” again and probably with more ferocity since 2009 was supposed to be Murray’s year.
That “freedom”, for lack of a better word, could be the key to tonight’s match for Federer. It will allow him to attack Murray instead of trying to bang it out on the baseline with the always steady Scot. Murray may feel the need to go for broke, and even though he’s come up with some spectacular shotmaking during the fortnight, it goes against his style to try that all night long. But if Murray does go for it, and succeeds, it will make for stellar tennis.
If Fed misses his chance for number 16, he won’t feel that bad, as he knows he’s got the rest of the year. But Murray will want to take this major now. He could do it, and it would be great for the game if he did, but like 2009, the drumbeat of history will stand in his way. Again.
Federer in four sets.