September 09, 2012 00:00 By Lerpong Amsa-ngiam lerla@hotm
"Murray Mania" has travelled across the continent from SW 19 to the Flushing Meadows in New York after Andy Murray triumphed in the sensational Olympics final where he tamed world No 1 Roger Federer for the invaluable gold medal, his highest career achiev
The Scot had been carrying a load of pressure on his shoulders year after year during the Wimbledon fortnight with the whole of United Kingdom hoping to see their own man hold the trophy. The world No 4, classified in the same league as Federer, Raphael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, had never lived up to the expectations until recently.
After losing back-to-back Australian Open finals in 2010 and 2011, Murray had to bear his third straight heart-breaking final result at a major in Wimbledon two months ago when he barely put “FedEx” to the test. He was in tears after the match, and somehow he turned that tragedy into huge inspiration and made amends in the London Games.
By showcasing the master-class performance to subdue both Djokovic and Federer in the semi-final and final at All England, and with Rafael Nadal being on the sidelines with a knee injury, Murray suddenly became the most talked about player at the US Open, although he could only manage to reach the round of 16 in Masters 1000 events in Montreal and Cincinnati, the two big preludes to the last Grand Slam of the year.
Prior to his semi-final match with Thomas Berdych last night, Murray dropped just two sets, one to Feliciano Lopez in the third round and the other to Marin Celic in the quarter-finals. Judging from the results, especially the easy straight set win over the up-and-coming Milos Raonic of Canada, who everyone predicts as a future top player, Murray has been maintaining fine form and confidence from the Olympics despite fitness concerns and fatigue.
Still, the Brit should prevail over the big-hitting Czech Berdych, the conqueror of Federer in the quarter-finals. And if everything goes according to the form book, Murray will go up against Djokovic in the men’s final provided the defending champion survives against David Ferrer in the other semis.
But Andy and his fans shouldn’t get carried away because Djokovic is playing the same level of tennis that earned him three majors last year. Anyone who witnessed his match versus Juan Martin Del Porto would realise how dangerous the Serb is at this moment. The world No 2 is capable of running down all shots, no matter from what angle, and replying in ways only he can, to astonish any guy across the net. If they really square off on Sunday, it would end in five with Djokovic having a slight edge.
On the women’s side, we all know Serena Williams and Victoria Arzarenka are in the final. But above all, it would not take a tennis guru to predict the winner because Serena is unstoppable these days. Since working with Frenchman Patrick Mouratoglou at Wimbledon, Williams has not lost to anyone except to Angelique Kerber of Germany in Cincinnati. I have never seen her in such a devastating form for a long time, not to mention the level of determination that could be barely found in other players. The macho Serena can whip a clean winner at will and no matter how hard the ball is hit to her, she responds not only harder but also with good direction.
And don’t forget her rocket serves that should pave the way for her to make a living on the ATP Tour! Azarenka, with only one win from 10 meetings with Serena, will walk onto the court in the final in fear and doubts just like she showed in the Olympic semi-finals. She has very little to resist the power of Serena who will need just a little over an hour to claim her 15th Grand Slam trophy.