In the Olympics if you lose the final, you still get a silver medal. A runner-up trophy at a Slam doesn’t really compare with a silver medal. In the Wimbledon final, you have everything to gain and everything to lose at the same time. I had come through that semi-final against Janowicz and I knew I had a great chance of winning the final.
I was OK until the last 30 minutes before the match and then the nerves hit me again. I’m sure Novak, Rafa and Roger and their teams were nervous but the knowledge that they’d won Wimbledon before must have helped. Last year I lost and I did think that I might never get another chance to do it. For me, someone who has never won it before, and my support team, the nervousness is heightened. And that’s before you even think about it being my home Grand Slam and the extra expectation that entails.[…]
Then, finally, there is the walk to Centre Court. The one thing that helped me there is that I’ve walked through the corridor so many times. As soon as I started the walk, I felt better. It didn’t feel uncomfortable, the nerves eased. I know those hallways. I have sat on Centre Court, I have played numerous matches out there. I felt even better than the previous year. Walking to the court I could see people out of the window. People going up to the Hill, looking at their tickets, rushing to take their places. They looked happy. So I felt I should be, too.
The beginning of any match is really important, and even more so in a Grand Slam final. Statistics show that if you win the first set in a Slam final, you are much more likely to go and win the match. And this time, I had three break points in the first game. I wanted to get that break from 0-40, I was hitting the ball well from the back of the court, but I didn’t quite make it.[…]
The final was much as I expected it, full of deep-hitting, eneregy-sapping rallies, Novak striking the ball out of the middle, and both of us looking for that essence of authority. Winning the first set was going to be critical and, after I couldn’t convert any of my chances in the first game, I broke in the third with a backhand down the line, wrong-footing him. We had played 20 tortuous minutes and it was only 2-1. Then, in game four, I had three break points and took advantage of the second.
I immediately had Novak on the back foot on his serve again, earning three break points and taking the second. I hung on to my advantage this time, and when I eventually served out he set to love, I felt a rush. I had played the perfect service game and pretty much a perfect set.
I did get a bit defensive at the start of the second set and Novak pushed out to a 4-1 lead. At 4-2, I had two break points, but he won three in a row for advantage. I hung around in another long rally, broke his next serve and he double-faulted the game away. 4-3.
Four games to three became 4-4 and 5-5. At 15-all in the eleventh game, Novak got involved in a dispute with umpire Mohamed Lahyani about a baseline call – Novak thought the ball was out but there was no call and Hawk-Eye, so I’m told, said it was good. I had two break points and on the second, he netted. For the second time, I served out to love, this time finishing the set with an ace. Two sets to love up. A nice cushion but the job was nowhere near finished.[…]
At least the finishing line was in sight. I imagine that’s the same as when you reach the last kilometre of a marathon and you feel much better than you did five kilometres out because you know the end is close. In the same way, it is a lot easier to chase the balls down when you are only one set away from finishing the match rather than another two-and-a-half sets, which is what it was looking like at 4-1 down 15 minutes previously. I was now in a position where I could really put pressure on an try to close out the match.[…]
I felt I was beginning to read Novak’s intentions, even though I went from 2-0 up to 4-2 down in the third. I broke back, setting it up with a swinging forehand and he missed his backhand long. Then I held for four-all, with another of those running forehands to a backhand drop shot.
In the next game at 15-all, again I had to cover some ground. Novak played a drop shot, I could only flick it back, he played a lob, but I had the time to spin round and give chase and got enough of a racket on it to fire the ball at him before he could react. 15-30.
I suppose the next point was one of the most crucial. Novak struck a very solid forehand into my forehand corner which meant a scramble and a forehand ‘get’. He swept his backhand deep into the opposite corner, which I managed to get back as well, this time with interest. he could only play an off-balance backhand volley and i had read it, moving up the court for a forehand winner.
An explosion of noise. The crowd was right in my head now. I could sense their support, their desire, their drive. I wanted to get them over the line. I was blowing hard, but so was Novak. When he netted a forehand on the next poin point, I remeber him walking back to the chair and looking at him for a split-second. He kicked out at his racket bag. He was suffering. I was about to serve for Wimbledon.
A few fraught minutes (and deuces) later, the title was mine.
Having won the Olympic gold medal and the US Open the previous year, I expected to go into Wimbledon with a bit more confidence, but the feelings of nervousness and stress were still the same. Maybe after the US Open, I felt that playing a Slam wouldn’t be the same arduous challenge anymore because I had won one, but for 99 per cent of the British population Wimbledon is the only one that really counts for the British players. I couldn’t change that. I felt that pressure.
Getting the first in under the belt can be the trickiest at Wimbledon. I am always nervous before the opening match because the court plays differently for a couple of days; it is extremely green and tricky underfoot. So I was really pleased to put in a decent first-round performance against Benjamin Becker.
Elsewhere, Rafael Nadal went out in the first round to Steve Darcis of Belgium and Roger Federer was beaten in the second round by Sergiy Stakhovsky from Ukraine (the guy I had beaten in the US Open junior final in 2004). Both Rafa and Roger were in my half of the draw and as soon as they were out, all the media talk about how tough it was going to be for me suddenly turned. ‘This is Andy’s Wimbledon to win.’ ‘If he doesn’t get to the final it will be a catastrophe.’ That’s why I never get obsessed with draws. But it is hard to block out that sort of talk and avoid complacency.
The fact that a lot of players were slipping and sliding on the courts in difficult conditions was also a concern. Against Lu Yen-hsun in the second round, I didn’t feel comfortable at all. My movement was stiff and tentative. I was also playing on No.1 Court which plays a little differently to Centre Court so I wasn’t settled. I felt anxious throughout, but managed to get through in straight sets.
The win set up a third round meeting with Tommy Robredo of Spain, the number 32 seed and a very fine player. We played under the roof on Centre Court which changes the conditions somewhat. It gives the court slightly different characteristics, which was something I needed to use to my advantage. I think I did a good job; it was my best match of the tournament.
Saturday afternoon brought some light relief as I got the opportunity to meet again some of my fellow Team GB Olympians, who had been invited into the Royal Box for the day. It was great to see some familiar faces, all decked out in the box, so after a quick switch of clothes from my practice gear into a suit and tie, I walked out to an ovation that was one of the most profound of my life. These are not the kind of occasions I particularly relish – I don’t know quite what to do or say, but everyone wanted to shake hands, have their pictures taken, say a few encouraging words. That was special for me. My spirits were rising all the time.
On Monday, I felt really good in defeating the Russian Mikhail Youzhny in straight sets. My quarter-final opponent would be Fernando Verdasco of Spain, a left-hander, the first time I had played one since Feliciano Lopez in the third round of the 2012 US Open.
It might not be easy for the layman ot understand why, but playing lefties is very different because of their variety of spins and angles. And when Verdasco is having a good serving day – as he was this time – he is a daunting challenge.[…]
Even though it was a five-setter, there was not too much running involved – only three kilometres over three-and-a-half hours. Many of the points were quick ones. After the match, I was more mentally than physically tired. The whole affair was really draining and emotional. Often guys come back from two sets to love down and end up losing that fifth set because it is hard to keep that concentration and not have a dip for a few games. Luckily I didn’t do that in the fifth and it was great to know I could come back to win without playing my best tennis.
In the semi-finals, I was drawn to play Jerzy Janowicz of Poland. He had been one of the stories at the end of 2012, racing through the field at the Paris Masters indoor event to reach the final and his ranking shot up as a consequence. He beat me in that tournament – I had match point, but didn’t follow through with a shot when I had a chance.
No one could predict how Janowicz would feel playing in his first Grand Slam semi-final. I know from experience that you feel so close to a final, but it also seems a huge distance away. […]
My opponent hit a 139-mph ace in his first service game, a statement of intent. Against someone like Janowicz it is important to let them know you mean business, that whatever they do, you are right in there with them, not prepared to give an inch.
I lost the first set on a tie-break. It was clumsy on my part but it was only one set. I broke his first service game in the second set. It was past eight o’clock and I could sense he was getting agitated by the gradually worsening light. It was perfectly playable but he kept on chuntering to the umpire about it. When I won the third set from 4-1 down, which he wasn’t happy about (neither was I that I let him have such a lead), he was going at the umpire again. I didn’t see Andrew Jarrett, the referee, walking on to the court, but I suddenly sensed his presence.
‘We’re going to close the roof,’ he told me.
I just thought he had to be kidding. Just because Janowicz is moaning about the light, we close the roof? Why? I wanted him to explain the rule to me but, as far as I recall, all he said was,
‘It’s the fairest thing to do… I’ve decided to close it.’
Back in the locker room, Janowicz was soon on his mobile phone, which was pretty hilarious when I come to think about it. It wasn’t a quiet conversation either, he was pretty agitated. I just sat down with my team, had a shower, and got ready to come back out to play. Anyone would be a little angry at the circumstances. I had the momentum and the light was good enough to play. It was 8.40pm, hardly night-time at that time of the year. There was at least half an hour of playable light left.
But I knew I had to put that grievance behind me. I had a job to finish. I wanted to win the match and win it now. And I was pleased with how quickly I settled down when we went back on court. I played a really good fourth set.
And so I was into the Wimbledon final again, against Novak. it was a match-up I was beginning to relish.
Roger Federer had beaten Novak Djokovic in the first semi-final. If I was to become the champion I would have to beat the greatest grass court player of all time.
I was nervous. I needed to win that match. I needed to win a Slam. And I really thought I had a chance. I felt so different to how I did before my first Grand Slam final, against Roger in the 2008 US Open. This time I felt like I was in a comfortable, settled place. I knew what I had to do. Mentally, I was prepared to win. I felt that I was ready.
I started well, breaking him in the first game and again at 4-4 to be able to serve for the first serve. I needed this set badly and I wasn’t nervous serving for it. I felt as good as I could possibly have done. 6-4.
In the second set, I had a couple of break points that I vividly recall. On one, I hit a cross-court passing shot which he volleyed behind me. The next, I went full-blooded for a backhand winner down the line. I could have hit it down the middle of the court, and that might have happened in the past, but I decided to go for the winner. I just missed it. Roger took the set 7-5.
We went off for rain a couple of games into the third set and they closed the roof. Roger came out more aggressive from there. His timing is so good: when there is no wind to disturb him, he strikes the ball superbly. I don’t think I played any worse, it was just that he played a little better. He was in his element.
At 3-3, I led 40-0 and he played a really good drop shot which I fell trying to reach. That stunned me a little. I think he could see that in my eyes. He got it back to deuce and piled on the pressure. I had to save five break points, but couldn’t save a sixth. He was ahead from that moment on, taking the set 6-3 and easing over the line 6-4 in the fourth.
I have seen loads of players crying in the locker rooms after games, and heard stories about people breaking down. Normally you can get off the court pretty much straight away so that you can do that in private. Not in major finals, though, and I knew when I was going up to be interviewed on court straight after the defeat to Roger it was going to be really hard.
When I went to speak, the crowd turned the volume up and I sensed they knew what I was feeling. They made so much noise I had to wait for them. Sue Barker started to ask a question, but I knew people hadn’t heard, so I ended up taking the microphone from her and just tried to say what I was feeling.
There was no time to think about what to say. I hadn’t pictured myself losing or worried about what I might say if I did. My mind was in turmoil and the words just came spilling out. In sport, the interviews are usually so choreographed, but this was totally spontaneous.
I was just pleased that in those few moments, people saw my true personality. I appreciate the support I get, I really do. It helps so much. In the past maybe i didn’t have everyone behind me, but that summer was the first time I really felt like the crowd were saying, ‘He is one of us’. They really, really wanted me to win, they understood me and how much it meant.
I apologised to Roger for reacting the way I did, but he said not to worry, it showed how much I cared. He is a great champion. I came away proud of what I had achieved. Although I was upset that I hadn’t won, there was no second-guessing myself thinking, ‘What if I had done that differently?’ I had gone for my shots, but for a set and a half at the end of the match, he just played brilliantly.
In the locker room, Ivan said he was proud of me too, and that I’d be better next time. I believed him, but it didn’t stop me having to endure one of the saddest nights of my life.
Today I’ve got tickets for court Lenglen. In the first match of the day, 2014 Roland Garros finalist Simona Halep rallied from one set down to beat Naomi Osaka 4-6 6-2 6-3.
The view from my seat, row 25:
In Roland Garros’ newspaper today, the extraordinary story of Marcel Bernard, who took the singles title here in 1946. He was at first only committed in the mixed doubles and mens doubles competitions, but took part to the singles tournament due to the withdrawal of his his mixed doubles partner. He defeated Jaroslav Drobny in the final in five sets. It was the first Roland Garros tournament after a 6-year hiatus due to World War II.
The Roland Garros mixed doubles trophy is now known as the “Coupe Marcel Bernard”. The stadium in which the Open du Nord is played is named after him.
Marcel Bernard (left) and Jaroslav Drobny:
Andy Murray defeats Ivo Karlovic 6-1 6-4 7-6
Will we see the grumpy player who struggled to beat Stepanek and Bourgue in the previous rounds or the champion who defeated Nadal in Madrid and Djokovic in Rome? From the first points on, it was obvious it would be the latter. Murray looked sharp and focused, and Karlovic was in danger on each of his service games. Murray dispatched Karlovic in three sets, his 7th win in seven meetings with the Croat. You can find the complete recap of the match here.
No trouble for Andy Murray after two nerve-wracking five-set marathon matches in the previous rounds, as he dispatched Ivo Karlovic 6-1 6-4 7-6 on court Lenglen. A quick start, a dominating second set and a solid third set, and Murray reaches the fourth round where he’ll meet another big-server, John Isner.
Karlovic was in danger on each of his service games in the first two sets, and even if he tried to change tactics and come to the net, he clearly has not the weapons to bother Andy on clay.
At the end of the traditional post-match interview on court, Fabrice Santoro asked him to tell in Fench what he’d order for dinner this evening. His reply: “filet de boeuf, frites maison, salade verte and that’s it”.
"Feelay de boof".
That's French (with a Scottish accent) for steak.
According to my younger son. #RolandGarros
— judy murray (@judmoo) May 27, 2016
Andy Murray announced his ‘mutually agreed’ split from coach Amélie Mauresmo earlier this month. In an interview with l’Equipe Magazine, Mauresmo explains the reasons behind the end of their partnership. She also talks about the Fed Cup, and various things she already discussed in previous interviews like her view on Grand Slams format and lack of winning culture in France.
Here are a few extracts (interview by Romain Lefebvre and Franck Ramella, translation by Tennis Buzz):
Q: We would like to know more about your split with Andy Murray
I had the feeling we had felt the end of road professionally. It was concluded that it would be difficult to continue. I reduced a bit my number of weeks of presence since the Australian Open and we spent little time together. It happened to be a difficult period for him and I couldn’t help him. But this decision (to end the partnership) was initiated some time ago.
Q: For what reasons?
I don’t want to go into details. Everybody could see some things.
Q: In particular you no longer sat in Murray’s box in Miami?
I no longer wished to be there. I wanted to try something else.
Q: Because of his behaviour on court?
Andy is complex. On a court he can be the complete opposite of what he is in life. It can be confusing. I was there to help him. I had the feeling we could not make progress anymore.
Q: What is your assessment of this experience?
It was a beautiful adventure. It broke down barriers in mens’ tennis. I was proud to be a pioneer. And it worked, thanks to respect and communication. I have good memories of his success on clay last year (titles in Munich and Madrid) while he had never won a title on this surface. I liked the way Andy works, I enjoyed working with his team. Andy has great listening and analysis capacities. He is curious, always looking. And that’s what makes great champions. It was a great challenge in which I put myself in danger. I accepted the job because I knew I could bring him most of the things he wanted. He had difficulties to communicate. He wanted someone able to listen to him. He also wanted to play more aggressively, near the baseline. He thought he could open up a bit more with a woman. Back then, he didn’t want to play anymore.
Photo credit: Tennis Buzz, Andy Murray practicing with Thanasi Kokkinakis, Roland Garros 2015