Already a hero, but can Murray overcome the odds against legend Federer?


By a Newsnet reporter

Andy Murray will step onto the Wimbledon centre court as underdog this afternoon as he bids to make history by taking the top prize in world tennis.

Standing in his way is tennis legend Roger Federer who is also looking to make history of his own by equalling the record of Pete Sampras by taking his seventh Wimbledon title.

The weight of expectation on both men has turned this match into one of the most eagerly anticipated finals of the modern era.

Murray has already entered the history books by becoming the first player from the British Isles to contest a final since Bunny Austin in 1938.  If he wins he will become the first British born player since Fred Perry to hold the title.

The Scot secured his final place after a nail biting semi-final match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.  Federer secured his own place by overcoming world number one Novak Djokovic.

A win for the Swiss born player will also see him overtake the record held by Pete Sampras of the longest number of weeks as world number one.  Currently Federer is one week behind Sampras with 285 weeks.

The head to head record between Murray and Federer gives the Scot a slight advantage, Murray having beaten the Swiss tennis genius eight times to Federer’s seven.  However, crucially, Murray has yet to beat Federer in a Grand Slam event.

For the superstitious Murray fan there is a good omen in that the last time a British born player won a Wimbledon single’s title was, as now, a jubilee year.

In 1977, with the Queen celebrating her Silver Jubilee, Virginia Wade overcame Bette Stove to take the title.  This year is the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

But that sort of superstitious wishful thinking is unlikely to make much impression on Roger Federer.   Murray himself admits he needs to play the “perfect match” to beat the Swiss maestro.

“He’s one of the greatest ever players.  He’s been doing it consistently over a number of years.  He’s very, very tough to beat here,”

“It’s a great challenge, one where I’m probably not expected to win, but one that, if I play well, I’m capable of winning.  The pressure that I would be feeling if it was against somebody else I guess it would be different.

“But there will be less on me on Sunday because of who he is.”

An attempt at deflecting pressure onto his opponent perhaps, but Murray is correct in his analysis of his opponent.  Federer is comfortable on grass and has proved time and again that he is capable of beating anyone in the game.  His semi-final demolition of Djokovic was a testament to his consistency.

A win for the man from Basel in today’s final will also see Federer stretch his Grand Slam title collection to seventeen and he would be the first man since Andre Agassi at the Australian Open in 2003 to win one of the top four tournaments in tennis past the age of 30.

“There’s a lot on the line for me. I’m not denying that.  I have a lot of pressure, as well.  I’m looking forward to that.  That’s what I work hard for,” he said.

“I’ve worked extremely hard since I lost that match point against Novak last year at the U.S. Open.

“My run has been extremely good. Now I have a chance at world No. 1, and at the title again all at once.

“So it’s a big match for me.”

However Murray, with a new coach, eight-time grand slam winner Ivan Lendl, might just be ready to win his first Grand Slam title.