For the last five years or so we have been promised so much from the Britain’s number one tennis player. A fantastic run to the semi-finals of each of the four Grand Slams ended last week when Andy Murray was knocked out of the French Open in the quarter-finals by Spain’s David Ferrer. The last few years has seen Murray capture several Masters 1000 titles without taking the big step up to winning one of tennis’s top prizes. We have been promised so much by the media and tennis pundits with even Murray’s rivals insisting he can win a Grand Slam. He can, but will he?
Parallels can be made with other seemingly underachieving sportsmen, the England football team. For the past two decades we have been indoctrinated by the media heralding several England Teams as the ‘Golden Generation’. Yet England have not won a trophy since 1966. There have been numerous close calls since the famous victory at Wembley but overall the England Football Team has failed to deliver. The British media has built the team up for a fall in each of the major tournaments.
Andy Murray has had his fair share of close calls too. The Scot has played in nine Grand Slam semi-finals and reached three finals. Each time he has reached the final, he has been simply over-awed by a player ranked higher than him (2008 US Open and 2010 Australian Open vs. Roger Federer and 2011 Australian Open vs. Novak Djokovic). In 2010 and 2011 Murray was being hailed as a genuine contender for each Grand Slam but each time he failed to live up to expectation. Now, however, tennis journalists are finally seeing sense and discounting Murray from being one of the frontrunners. Murray is now considered as the leader of the pack chasing down Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer at the summit of the game. It’s a fairly simple scenario, Murray is playing alongside three players that will go down in the annals of tennis history as the greatest ever. To take the likes of Djokovic to five sets in a match is a super human effort in itself.
The situation with England in Euro 2012 can be considered the same. A run to the semi-final or a battling loss to the quarter finals should be considered a success. There are teams such as Spain, Germany, Holland and Italy which simply possess better players and a better footballing foundation than England. Of course on the world stage, England lag further behind. This may be a pessimistic prospect for tennis and football fans alike but it is realistic to accept that the fate of British prospects in these sports is simply in the hands of the opposition. It will take a collective implosion of the status quo of both sports for England to win Euro 2012 and for Andy Murray to win a Grand Slam in the near and distant future. But stranger things have happened in professional sport.