Friday, July 3, 2009

Murray Mania Up in Flames; Roddick Through to Finals

The pressure finally got to be too much for Great Britain's great white hope. Or maybe it was Andy Roddick that was too much. Either way you slice it, Murray Mania, that grand and glorious affair that was uniting all of Britain, and much of the tennis world, is now dead.

At least until next year.

Playing like a man possessed, hard-serving Andy Roddick made sure of it, denying Murray in his bid to become the first player from Great Britain to win Wimbledon since 1936, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7), 7-6(5).

Serving at a 75 percent clip for the match, including 85 percent in the first set, Roddick was able to tilt the match in his favor from the very beginning of this highly anticipated affair. Even as Murray was able to win the second set, it seemed as if he was doing the greater percentage of the running for much of the match.

But that didn't stop the 22-year-0ld Scot from getting his opportunities against the Omaha native, who advanced to his third Wimbledon final with the win.

Murray had three break points against the Roddick serve in the first game of the third set. When Roddick fought off the third break point with a stab volley that died in the grass, there was a feeling that this might be the other Andy's day.

As the third set neared it's conclusion with Roddick clinging to a service break lead, Murray, urged on by the anxious partisan crowd, got another three break points while down 5-3. This time he only wasted one of them. On the second, a Roddick backhand sailed long and the match was on serve again.

Neither could make any more inroads on the other's serve, and the third set would be decided by a tiebreaker that would feature set points by both Andy's.

Murray was first to have the chance, but Roddick saved by placing an awkward drop shot just out of Murray's reach. After Roddick won the next point on his serve it would be Murray who had to save a match point. He did just that with a service winner.

Finally, a framed backhand by Murray gave Roddick his second set point on his serve. This time he did not miss, and the all-important third set had swung the match in favor of the underdog American.

In the fourth the Scot, much to the delight of the Centre Court crowd on this tranquil afternoon, had his chances yet again. As the shadows started their foray onto the playing surface, Murray managed to get to deuce from 15-40 in the 6th game of the set, but was coolly rebuffed by Roddick.

In the 8th game, Murray had his first break point of the set, but it was quickly erased by three very confident points from a clearly inspired Roddick.

Niether player would yield a break point for the remainder of the set, and another tiebreaker ensued.

Roddick look destined to cruise as he grabbed a 5-2 lead, but the resilient Murray was not about to pack it in. An exquisite drop shot led to a Murray winner that drew him closer at 5-4, and the crowd roared it's approval. Roddick took the next point and had the match on his racquet but Murray hit a passing shot that sent Roddick tumbling to the grass.

With Murray to serve at 5-6, the crowd did its best to quiet itself to let their hero concentrate.

Moments later, they were quiet for a different reason.

The last of Murray's 20 unforced errors on the day gave Roddick a spot in the Wimbledon final, with his old nemesis Roger Federer.

"I did better than I ever had before. I had some very good matches, and, you know, I thought I played good tennis," said a disappointed but very mature Murray. "I thought I dealt with everything that was sort of put in front of me well. You know, I'll come back next year and try and do better, but it was a good tournament, wasn't bad at all."

An elated Roddick was dignified in victory, showing that he sypathized with Murray's plight.

"To be fair, he had all the pressure on him, and I just kind of had to swing away," he said.

So the long winding trail of Murray Mania has reached it's conclusion. Now the collective energy of the British faithful will no doubt settle on the task of willing one of its greatest hero's of all time to his sixth Wimbledon title.

For Murray, his best-ever Wimbledon performance at the ripe age of 22 is an achievement that may not have lived up to the unrealistic expectations placed upon him, but it's nothing to scoff at nonetheless.

Hopefully for Murray and for Great Britain, this minor setback will set the table for the major victory that will someday come.


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