by Rob Dore
Andy Murray (25) refused to reveal the significance of his new pointing to the sky celebration after beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (27) in the semi-finals of Wimbledon. Whoever or whatever it is, the prices say he’s going to need a little bit of help to beat Roger Federer (30) in the final. But just a little.
Murray is the 7/4 ‘under-dog’ against the six-time Wimbledon champion but this is the closest the betting has been in their three Grand Slam final meetings.
They first played out a very one-sided US Open final in 2008 which Federer comfortably took in three sets.
Two years later Federer won their meeting in the 2012 Australian Open final in straight sets. A similarly one-sided affair in which Murray again appeared nervous and intimidated. As he did in his three set loss to Novak Djokovic (25) in the 2011 Australian Open final.
Despite his consistency and success in non-Grand Slam events critics have labelled Andy Murray as a ‘bottler’. Whatever your opinion he was clearly struggling to get the best out of himself in the biggest games. This realization led him to hiring Ivan Lendl at the end of 2011. An eight-time Grand Slam winner who himself lost four finals before winning the 1984 French Open. An experience which Murray is hoping to learn and benefit from.
Lendl has been hired to shape Murray’s mind more than his game and so far in this Wimbledon tournament he appears to have had a positive effect. Murray’s interviews contain no excuses or complaints. On court his characteristic vocal self-flagellations are near non-existent. He looks like he really believes he can win.
The real test of Lendl’s influence comes against Federer. Murray has a winning 8-7 career record over the Swiss world number three. In their last eight meetings Murray has an even more impressive 6-2 record. And, despite not being able to whip up a patriotic Henman-like fervor, he’ll be very well supported on Centre Court. Hopefully vocally so.
Murray is clearly a player who can trouble Federer. His ability to return serve and his speed around the court can help him work his opponent. Moving Federer around the court will test the back he had to get treated during his game with Xavier Malisse in the last 16.
There’s also the possibility that Federer may have peaked a round too early, having to play at his absolute best to beat Djokovic. That may have taken something out of the tank.
“It’s a great challenge, one where I’m probably not expected to win the match, but one that, you know, if I play well, I’m capable of winning.”
Ultimately for Andy Murray it will come down to whether or not he believes he’s good enough to win. If he’s as confident and focused as he was in the first two sets against Tsonga then Murray is a solid bet at 7/4. Having yet to go to a fifth set in this tournament Murray is 5/1 to keep that streak going with a 3-1.
However, if you don’t think Ivan Lendl has made any difference at all and that Murray will collapse under the pressure, then you can back Roger Federer to wipe the floor with him with a 3-0 whitewash at 12/5.