Andy Murray – the current numero uno in tennis – is struggling to find his form on the court after a scintillating run in the last quarter of 2016 and hence can find it difficult to retain his top billing if his slump continues.
Last season, Andy Murray won a record nine titles – including his second Wimbledon and three other Masters – catapulting him to the summit of men’s singles rankings for the first time in his career just before the season-ending Tour Finale in London. In a pulsating tug of war last week of the previous spell, the Scot got the better of his long-time rival – the former number one Novak Djokovic – in the final to end the year as the world’s best.
Since May last year to the London’s O2, the British hope played six Masters final – winning four of them. However coming into 2017, Murray seemed to have lost his magical touch – stumbling at Doha to Djokovic in the final. His agony multiplied after he submitted himself to then world number 50 Mischa Zverev at Melbourne Park. Though the lanky Scot made amends at Dubai – winning the Duty Free Championships – the top seed was lucky enough not to come across any player ranked inside top 10 in his path to glory.
The World no. 129 Vasek Pospisil from Canada ousted the three-time Grand Slam winner in his Indian Wells Opener while he fared a run better at Monte Carlo a month on the road. Young gun Dominic Thiem cut him short at Barcelona in the semis whereas another early outing happened last week at Madrid – most of the time falling to unseeded players.
30 as an age, for long, used to be a psychological barrier in the ever-growing physical tenets of tennis. It is a number that many would hate to reach for being labeled as one past his prime. But with the advent of two 30-plus superstars of the last decade – Roger Federer aged currently at 35 and three-quarters and Rafael Nadal just a fortnight short of 31 – going better than any other racketeer on the circuit, 30 could be the new prime in this paradigm shift in modern tennis that has more to do with sound fitness regime than with just a mental meltdown over the candles added to the anniversary cake.
The Swiss maestro Federer stormed out of a barren last season to winning Australian Open besides adding the “sunshine double” at Indian Wells and Miami – winning three big trophies in the opening quarter for the first time in almost a decade. To make it sweeter, he beat his nemesis Nadal in each of these three events. The Spaniards too struck gold as the clay season started – completing his “La Decima” at Monte Carlo and Barcelona respectively and could well add Madrid to his tally. Federer and Nadal are recently the current one and two in the race to London for the Tour Finale.
Murray – who stands a pathetic 11 in the business list for the year – needs to improve big to make his ranking count. He has ample of points to defend from here onwards as most of his points to the summit were won in tournaments held in the second half of the year. He must defend as much as he can to stay at the helm. There must have to be a quick turnaround and we only hope that the Lady Luck bestows upon him on his birthday itself.
I finish this piece wishing the British pro once again and look forward to see him in a form worthy of a world number one.
Photo by Marianne Bevis