London 2012 Olympics: Andy Murray played the long game to triumph
ANDY Murray has never liked losing – whether it be at Monopoly or at tennis.
In the opening chapter to his autobiography Hitting Back, the British No 1 says: “Kipling’s wrong, by the way. You can’t treat them exactly the same, triumph and disaster. I don’t. Triumph is clearly better. I have never liked losing.”
Yesterday, as he took Gold against the man who had only a month earlier dashed his dream of taking the Wimbledon title, he was able to face down disaster and embrace triumph.
It hasn’t been an easy route for the Scot from Dunblane and he still faces the challenge of never having won a grand slam title. But the signs for victory were always there.
Murray’s career started at the age of five when he was spotted by junior coach Leon Smith, who described him as “unbelievably competitive”.
It could so easily have ended three years later when former Scout leader Thomas Hamilton burst into Dunblane primary school, where Murray and his elder brother Jamie were pupils, and opened fire with a collection of handguns killing 16 children and a teacher before shooting himself.
A year later he faced another traumatic event when his parents Will and Judy decided to separate, divorcing nine years later in 2005.
It is thought these events, so early on in his life, could have contributed to Murray’s single-minded competitiveness. Another important factor is the sibling rivalry between him and his brother who is 15 months older.
As a youngster, Jamie was rated the second-best junior player in the world and beating him became Andy’s greatest motivation – something he achieved for the first time in an under-12s final in Solihull.
In 2005, ranked 407 in the world, Murray became the youngest Briton ever to play in the Davis Cup. After helping Britain win the tie with a crucial doubles win, Murray turned professional and played in Barcelona, the French Open and Queen’s before becoming the first Scot in the Open era to reach the third round of the men’s singles tournament at Wimbledon.
Here he met, and lost to, 2002 Wimbledon finalist David Nalbandian in an epic five-set match.
He completed the year ranked 64 and was named the 2005 BBC Scotland Sports Personality of the Year.
Throughout the next few years, Murray suffered from problems with his fitness and with his coaches, ditching first Mark Petchey, then Brad Gilbert and Miles Maclagan in 2010.
In 2007, Murray achieved a top ten ranking by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) for the first time in his career and the sponsorship money started rolling in. He reportedly signed the biggest shirt-sponsorship deal at the time with Highland Spring – worth £1 million.
The following year he became the first Briton since Greg Rusedski in 1997 to reach a Grand Slam final, losing in straight sets to Roger Federer in the US Open, and earning his number four ranking. In 2008, he reached another milestone when he became the first British winner of Queen’s since 1938 and the following year he achieved his highest ranking to date of number two.
In 2010, Murray became the first British man to reach more than one Grand Slam final in 72 years when he reached the final round in the Australian Open, losing to Federer, and 2011, he was runner-up again losing this time to Novak Djokovic.
This year he appointed eight-time grand slam winner Ivan Lendl as his new full-time coach. In a fitting end to the story so far, Lendl has achieved with Murray, what he failed to achieve as a player – a Wimbledon title. After taking gold yesterday, he will now turn his attention to the elusive Grand Slam title.
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Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 17 C
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Temperature: 8 C to 17 C
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Wind direction: West