The Golden Boy – Andy Murray’s Olympic Legacy
Andy Murray’s gold medal winning effort in the Olympic final against Argentinian Juan Del Potro establishes him as the most successful male tennis Olympian of all time. A grandiose title indeed for the 29-year-old Scot, who has for much of his career played fourth fiddle to the modern greats of the game – Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic.
Nadal has also won two gold medals, his doubles winning effort in Rio adds to the singles gold won at the 2008 Beijing games although, in tennis circles, the singles competitions are regarded as the blue riband events. Murray now sits at the pinnacle of Olympic success, although he did have the good grace to remind the BBC’s John Inverdale that he wasn’t the first person to win two Olympic tennis gold medals – Serena and Venus Williams hold that mantle… just the first man.
3.2 Million British Fans Watched Murray Take Gold In The Early Hours Of The Morning
The foundations of the legacy Murray is building in his native United Kingdom are solid. Over 3.2 million people tuned into a final that stretched into the early hours of the morning.
Murray is one of the British national icons that transcend the sport in his homeland. His 7-5 4-6 6-2 7-5 win over Del Potro is another tick on the list of honours that make him the most decorated male British tennis player since Fred Perry who competed back in the 1930s.
Globally, Del Potro was the neutral fan’s popular choice to take the crown. The well-liked Argentine has continually struggled with injuries since winning the 2009 US Open. A highly promising career derailed by a succession of wrist injuries that threatened his very existence in the sport. The fact he was even playing in the Olympics, and in a South American Olympics to boot, meant Murray wasn’t only playing Del Potro, but also vying with a raucous, highly partisan crowd.
Cool Heads Prevail
At times during his career, Murray may have let the crowd get under his skin, Del Potro served for the fourth set at 5-4 with the crowd volume at full blast, but Murray kept his nerve, came through the eye of the storm and broke back to 5-5. The Scot saved two more break points on his own serve in the following game to take a 6-5 lead before clinching gold by breaking Del Potro again. It was a perfect illustration of his increasing resilience in the face of pressure.
It’s no coincidence that the Scot’s own outbursts at the player box and on-court grumblings have largely evaporated during Ivan Lendl’s reign as coach. Lendl, the 8-time major winner seems to have a galvanising effect on Murray’s inner strength. It seems he does not even have to be in the player’s box.
Lendl’s own career achievements command a noticeable level of respect from Murray that hasn’t always been apparent in past coaching relationships. “Ivan’s single-minded and knows what it takes to win the big events,” acknowledged Murray prior to reforming the relationship that had seen him win two majors and an Olympic gold in London during Lendl’s successful first stint as coach.
Lendl also appears to have mellowed a little. Murray’s victory at Wimbledon in July brought tears of joy to the usually stoic character. Initially, Lendl joked the tears were a result of an allergy, but later admitted an outburst of emotion. Lendl said: “Of course we are emotional, we are all busting our chops for Andy to do well and win. When it is achieved, it is a very good feeling.”
Business As Usual
Del Potro returned to a hero’s welcome in Argentina, brandishing a silver medal that underlined his return to the mix of top tier tennis. Murray, in contrast didn’t rest on his laurels, chartering a private jet with Rafael Nadal to continue the ATP tour schedule at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.
The opening days of the Cincinnati campaign saw Murray reach the milestone of securing a 600th career ATP victory. Perhaps an even more impressive statistic is that it only took him 116 matches to jump from 500 to 600. He joins Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Ferrer in an elite club of active players to hit that number.
As a three-time grand slam winner, double gold medal Olympian and Davis Cup winner, Murray is already a lock for the tennis Hall Of Fame. Additionally, he’s cemented his position as the greatest male British tennis player of the open era and will be a shoe-in for a knighthood from the British establishment in due course, upgrading the OBE (Order of the British Empire) gong he was awarded in 2013.
Murray’s own evaluation of his career legacy puts family before trinkets. Following the Olympic triumph, he talked about sharing his glories with his baby daughter when she was old enough. “When she’s old enough I will try to explain to her what it is that I do as a job, if you can call it that. I’m sure there will be some videos somewhere, so I can show her the matches if she’s interested – and maybe she won’t be. A lot of the tennis players that I’ve spoken to that have children, they just see their parent as their father and they are more interested in the other players. So I’ll just wait and see.”
A typically humble response from the Dunblane native, who is likely to add to his legacy before his daughter is old enough to know.