Invincible Federer leaves Murray broken hearted
Roger Federer put on a tennis masterclass to destroy British hopes of seeing Andy Murray win his first ever grand slam title. Murray played brilliant tennis, but was left in despair.
Wimbledon, yesterday evening: Andy Murray, the best tennis player in Britain, stands in front of crowds of adoring fans. He has just played some of the best tennis of his career – earning, in the process, a prize of more than half a million pounds. And yet, he is shedding bitter tears of disappointment.
Murray was brilliant that afternoon, hammering shots across the net with furious energy; hurling himself across the court to hit balls that seemed unreachable. Smashing unreturnable serves and coaxing subtle drop shots, he deployed every weapon in his arsenal in a dazzling display of skill and grit.
But if the Scotsman, cheered on by thousands of British fans, was brilliant, his opponent was out of this world. A Wimbledon winner on six previous occasions, Roger Federer has the poise and calm of a true veteran. For a short while, he seemed unsettled by Murray’s onslaught, losing the first set four games to six. But, after a hard fight, Federer took the second.
By now, the Swiss champion was showing exactly why he is often called the greatest player of all time. Murray was grunting from the effort each time he hit the ball. Federer, on the other hand, was silent and graceful, returning Murray’s shots with the deadly precision of a matador in a bullring. With a series of perfect forehands, he took the third set and then the fourth, to claim a record-equalling seventh Wimbledon win.
Murray had done his best, but it had not proved good enough. Instead of claiming a longed-for victory, he had to concede graciously that Federer had played the better game. ‘He’s pretty good for a 30-year-old,’ Murray joked. ‘Congratulations. You deserve it.’
But the Scot, not known for displays of emotion, could not hold back tears as he thanked his family and his fans for their devoted support. His frustration can only be imagined. In his years in the top rank of international tennis, this is the fourth time he has reached the final of one of the major ‘grand slam’ tournaments. Each time, he has faltered at the final test. All those hours of training, all that dreaming and striving and for what? To be a four-time runner up.
A hard life
Watching Murray’s disappointment, many will have been forcefully reminded of how hard it is to be a sportsperson. Despite the money and the fame, top athletes live in a world of ruthless competition, where a brilliant talent can sacrifice everything, only to endure the agony of second best.
But even in painful defeat there was – perhaps – something to be envied in Murray’s single minded commitment to his calling. He and Federer shook hands not like enemies but like sporting brothers, united by a shared dedication to the tennis-player’s art.
- Would you swap lives with Andy Murray?
- Imagine if, just as he was about to win the final set, Federer had sprained a wrist and been forced to concede the match, giving Andy Murray the Wimbledon trophy. Would Murray have had real cause for celebration?
- You have no more than ten words to answer the following question: ‘What is the point of sport?’ Compare your answers with others in the class.
- In pairs, devise and perform a short drama. The scene: Andy Murray goes to a careers office, looking for a new start. What happens next?
Some People Say...
“No one who gets paid half a million for playing sport deserves any sympathy.”
What do you think?
Q & A
- I think I might go into sports. It seems like even if you lose, you still make lots of money!
- Lots of young people get into sport to try to get rich and live like footballers or tennis stars. The truth is, only the very best players – a tiny fraction – make serious money. For example, when Britain’s second best tennis player, James Ward, was knocked out in the first round of Wimbledon 2009, he made only £10,750.
- That’s pretty good for a game of tennis!
- Not when you think of all the hours of training and preparation. And there’s the fact that professional sports careers usually end at the age of around 35. That’s not to say sport is a bad career. Just that it should be done for love, not money.
- Every summer, the All England Tennis and Croquet Club at Wimbledon hosts the biggest international tennis tournament of the year: the Wimbledon Championships. Wimbledon is one of four ‘Majors’ – the four biggest trophies in tennis. The others are the French, US and Australian Opens.
- Drop shots
- A drop shot in tennis is a shot hit with very little power that drops over the net and bounces low, forcing the opponent to run forward. Andy Murray is perhaps the best drop shot player in the world.
- In Spanish bullfighting, the matador is the person who kills the bull after it has been weakened by other fighters. The kill is made with a long thin sword, plunged between the shoulder blades and into the bull’s heart.
- People entering jobs often talk about having a ‘vocation’, or ‘calling’. The idea of a vocation (from the Latin vocatio, ‘a call’) came originally from the Christian Church, in which it was and is believed that some people are specially called to serve God as monks, nuns or clergy.