Being Andy Murray

Reuters/Stefan Wermuth

A common rhetorical question among, I imagine, people not in my tax bracket, particularly around holidays and on big occasions such as weddings, asks what you get the man[1] who has everything. If you live a lavish lifestyle, you presumably have all the needs of life covered, as well as any material possessions. It’s awfully difficult for your famous birthday party guests to get you peace of mind, or to cleanse your conscience of the many great sins you committed on your way to the top.

Roger Federer seems like somebody who fits this bill[2], having accomplished more than any other male tennis player in the Open era and likely being content, if not exactly pleased, with his dazzling semifinal run and subsequent exit from Wimbledon. As of his victory in this year’s French Open, Novak Djokovic is the same, as is Rafael Nadal, whose fall from grace has been as swift as his run at Roland Garros was dominant. All of which leaves the other member of tennis’ Big Four thoroughly othered, despite looking over the edge once more. Repeat after me: Andy Murray finds himself in a major tournament Final, against Milos Raonic at Wimbledon on Sunday, though it may again end up feeling like he has crashed the wrong party.

One has to wonder what it’s like to be Andy Murray, whose career is full of untimely missteps, staggering peaks and play just inconsistent enough to boggle the mind. If his career was a scatter plot, the line of best fit would look something like a Jackson Pollack.

His greatest triumph came at this very tournament in 2013, when he finally won, in the process excising decades-old demons from the British viewing audience. Even at the time it was a case of ever-so-slight exception, being that Murray is Scottish, but – as we are all well-aware now – the crown’s subjects are all in it together, for better (that title) and for worse (#Brexit, LOL). At that time, it seemed that just the sheer, combined determination of Murray and the British public would somehow will him a Wimbledon championship, perhaps as a result of his Olympic gold medal triumph over Federer in London the previous summer, anything felt possible.

He delivered on that promise, but the rest of his career is a nuclear stockpile of near-misses that would’ve broken lesser men years ago. Maybe it has Murray, but given his general, disheveled appearance, that of an accountant in early April, you never can tell.

It has to pain him that, although he is considered a member of the[3] Big Four, he has only won two Grand Slam titles. Along with the Olympic gold medal and the Wimbledon win, Murray’s only other major came in 2012 at the US Open. Next to that lies a veritable trail of fuzzy Wilson tears, having lost in the French Open final this year to Djokovic and a positively heart-wrenching five (5!) times in the Australian Open final.

On Sunday, Murray has the chance to grab the spotlight from his more lauded (and, frankly, more accomplished) peers. He is fourth all-time in career earnings; care to guess who the three ahead of him are? He is ranked second in the world and is even second in his own family, with older brother Jamie currently rating as the world’s top-ranked doubles player.

Though he has already scaled this mountain, arguably lifting the biggest curse he could have, Andy Murray has more to achieve. With the gradual fading of Nadal and Federer, and Djokovic’s current, relentless hold on the throne, this is as golden an opportunity as Murray is bound to have. When he won Wimbledon the first time, a kingdom cried tears of joy; should he do it again, it would behoove him to ask that the site become the “All-Britain Club.” You know, for unity.

[1] Or woman! Or human being, or llama, or Canadian – because we’re all-inclusive here at TwH.

[2] Sans sins, because he is a benevolent tennis robot

[3] Arbitrarily-designated, honestly, without the input of Stan Wawrinka

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