Monday, July 8, 2013

75 years coming for Murray and England

Andy Murray beat Novak Djokovic in straight sets in the Wimbledon final to become the first British man in 77 years to win at the All England Club. As powerful as that statement is it may be a side note to exactly how big of a win it was for Murray and his personal career as he left the same court in tears last year with the same opportunity to break the streak and bring the trophy home for his country but instead was ousted by Rankin’ Roger Federer in four sets, after taking the first one 6-4. After that defeat, Murray's voice cracked and tears rolled as he told the crowd, "I'm getting closer."How prescient. Four weeks later, on the same court, he beat Federer for a gold medal at the London Olympics, a transformative victory if ever there was one. And 52 weeks later, on the same court, he beat Djokovic for the Wimbledon championship. For several seasons, Murray was the outsider looking in, while Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic collected 29 out of 30 Grand Slam titles. But now Murray has clearly and completely turned the Big 3 into a Big 4, having reached the finals at the last four major tournaments he entered (he withdrew from the French Open in May because of a bad back). And he's now a two-time Slam champion, having defeated Djokovic in five sets at the U.S. Open in September. So is this a sign of things to come for Murray or will this be his crowning moment? I think it will be a breakthrough of sorts and he will be back for more come the US Open but if winning his country’s championship in front of tens of thousands in person and at remote venues from all over the UK satisfies him then his stint as the King of the All-England club will be a short one and instead he’ll join an even bigger club though much less prestigious, the “Hall of One time Winners”.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Brazil Puts Out the Welcome Mat, but it Comes With a Warning Label

The host nation for the 2013 Confederations Cup did more than just dominate the top team in the world en route to a 3-0 win, they sent a message to everyone on the planet that might be watching that if you thought they looked tough in this tournament, the daunting task of taking them out in their own house when everyone comes to play might actually be impossible as they have not lost a competitive match at home since 1975. If you took the jersey’s off and watched the match on Sunday you surely would have thought that the eventual winner was the top side in the world and the loser ranked 22nd but it turned out to be the opposite and if that’s any harbinger of things to come next year then you should certainly throw out the rankings. Ironically, this may be the best thing to happen to Spain who has ranked first for the past 20 months, and is the most accomplished national team of recent decades, winning its first World Cup in 2010 between titles in the 2008 and 2012 European Championships. However, getting handed their worst lost since 1985 and ending their 29-game winning streak, as it may serve as a wakeup call that they will certainly not be able to just show up and hoist another world championship next summer. "We never arrived," said Xavi, whose ineffectual performance was one of the big surprises on a lacklustre night for the Spaniards, who had Gerard Pique sent off."They were more intense, they pressured more and there was more rhythm to their game. They were just better." His words were echoed by coach Vicente del Bosque who, after voicing irritation with Brazil fouls disrupting his side's flow, was quick to acknowledge that "they were better than us and they deserved the title". Conversely, Brazil is focusing on the really big prize: the World Cup that it hosts next year."We know that the tournament that we will be playing next year will be a lot more difficult," Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said. "Now we have more confidence. That's what we needed." But there is hope for the rest of the world despite not only Brazil’s but South American sides home success in the World Cup, no country has ever won the Confederations Cup and then proceeded to hoist the ‘Cup of Life’ so don’t schedule any parties in Rio other than Carnival just yet.