British number 1 still lacks X factor required to win a Grand Slam
Andy Murray put in a valiant effort against Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open semi-final, but still lost in what proved to be a thrilling, tightly-contested encounter.
Djokovic, the world number 1 who had such a sensational year in 2011, had to produce some of his finest tennis to overcome the challenge from the determined Scot, who fought right until the final point. At one stage Murray held a 2 sets to 1 lead over the Serb, but Djokovic came back strongly, winning the fourth set 6-1 and then cruising to a 5-2 lead in the final set. However, Murray did not give up, breaking Djokovic to love when he was serving for the match at 5-3. Murray then went on to level the set and leave it finely balanced at 5-5. Djokovic proved too strong, though, saving 3 break points and then overcoming Murray’s serve to win the match. Although Murray once again lost in the latter stages of a Grand Slam tournament, this defeat showed promise- signs that he has the ability to challenge the very best.
So, why is Murray unable to compete with Djokovic, Nadal and Federer and claim that elusive first Grand Slam title? There are a number of variables to consider. Firstly and most simply, luck. If a few extremely close calls had gone Murray’s way then the result may well have been very different. Luck plays a large part in most sports, but in tennis its role is massive. A few inches can be the difference between a win or a loss, a ticket to the final or a flight home. It is also important to consider that because Murray has not won a Grand Slam title before there is potentially more pressure on him. This is not to say that because Djokovic, Nadal and Federer have all won Grand Slams they don’t feel under pressure, as this is certainly not the case, but they may have more confidence in themselves as they know they have done it before. Federer and Nadal have far more experience in semi-finals and finals and can perhaps use this experience to control their nerves better in pressure situations. Djokovic has less experience, as up until 2011 he was in a similar position to Murray, still playing catch-up with Nadal and Federer. However, he is coming off an incredible run of form and, as has been proven time and again, winning is a habit which breeds further success and Djokovic will be hoping that it remains for a long time to come. Finally, Murray still seems to lack that certain something that makes the other three stand out. No one can doubt his commitment, his passion or his drive, but he still seems to lack that ‘X Factor’ that perhaps will come over time.
2011 was Djokovic’s year to come to the forefront, perhaps now is Murray’s time… certainly, judging by his performances in this competition, he is not far short of the mark. Still, Djokovic remains a class act and looks very hard to beat, but perhaps Murray has just found a chink in his armour? One thing’s for sure, the Nadal- Djokovic final should indulge us in some magical tennis. But for Murray, the wait goes on…