London 2012: Team GB’s Awards Ceremony

Best Quote:

Nominees: Boris Johnson – “They [the female beach volleyball players] are glistening like wet otters”, Boris Johnson ” ‘Inspire a generation’ is our motto. Not necessarily ‘Create a generation’, which is what they sometimes get up to in the Olympic Village…”, Ben Ainslie – “They’ve made me angry and you don’t want to make me angry”, Lord Coe – “When the time came, Britain, we did it right!”

Ben Ainslie Angry

You don’t want to make him angry…

Winner: Ben Ainslie’s fighting talk

Ben Ainslie’s threat to the rest of the Finn Class field may have sounded a little preposterous at the time but he yet again proved himself a class apart as he recovered a sizeable early deficit in the competition so sufficiently that he went into the final race in pole position and managed to hold on for his fourth gold medal. Like he said, you don’t want to make him angry…

Golden Oldie:

Nominees: William Fox-Pitt, Nick Skelton, Mary King, Greg Searle, Ben Ainslie, Katherine Grainger, Sir Chris Hoy

Winner: Nick Skelton

54 year old Nick Skelton may have narrowly missed out on a gold medal in the individual showjumping competition but in playing a huge part in Team GB’s gold medal winning success in the team competition he proved that he is still a spring chicken at heart.

Most Inspiring Member of Team GB:

Nominees: Jess Ennis (‘The face of the Games’), Anthony Agogo (Won boxing bronze and dedicated his triumph to his hospitalised mother), Nicola Adams (Women’s boxing trailblazer and gold medal winner), Gemma Gibbons (Judo silver Medallist who dedicated her success to her dead mother), Katherine Grainger (Three consecutive Olympic silver medals and now, finally, a gold medallist), Bradley Wiggins (Tour De France winner and now a four time Olympic gold medallist), Sir Chris Hoy (Six time Olympic gold medallist), Tom Daley (Bronze medallist so soon after the death of his beloved father), Joanna Roswell (Alopecia sufferer and now an Olympic gold medallist)

Winner: Nicola Adams

In a home Games that were full of emotion and tales to tell this was undoubtedly one of the most hotly contested categories and I have opted for Adams who endeared herself and her much-maligned sporting discipline to the nation. Before the Games many would have had reservations about women’s boxing but Adams’ bravery and skill turned people’s frowns upside down and she deserves an enormous amount of credit for playing a huge part in convincing the nation and indeed the world into giving the sport a chance and then some… 

Saddest Moment:

Nominees: Zak Purchase and Mark Hunter post-final interview, GB’s lighweight four post-final interview, Gemma Gibbons’ “I love you mum” moment

Winners: Zak Purchase and Mark Hunter

Most Exciting Moment:

Nominees: Mo Farah (Home straight of the 10,000m), Mo Farah (Home straight of the 5,000m), Laura Trott (Final event of the Omnium), Etienne Stott, Tim Bailie, David Florence and Richard Hounslow (C2 Canoe Finale) Peter Wilson (Double Trap Shooting Final), Tom Daley (10m Platform Diving Final), Victoria Pendleton (Individual Sprint)

Mo Farah Mobot

The ‘Mobot’

Winner: Mo Farah (10,000m home straight)

Mo Farah’s double gold medal winning performance at London 2012 was a treat to behold and for me at least his 10,000m race was the most exciting moment of the Games. It put the icing on the cake of an incredible Saturday night in the Olympic Stadium as it was Team GB’s third gold medal in the space of an hour and it was the ‘mo’ment which ensured that that night would forever go down as one of the very finest in British sporting history.

Best Team:

Nominees: Cycling, Rowing, Equestrian, Tennis, Gymnastics, Canoe/Kayak

Winners: Cycling

Gold after gold after gold. Once again the cycling team were unbelievable and there huge level of achievement was made all the more incredible by the heartbreak of Mark Cavendish’s ‘failure’ to live up to the huge weight of expectation on his shoulders when he finished way off the lead in the men’s road race on the first day of the Games. Such was the British cycling team’s success that the French team were crying foul play, accusing Dave Brailsford and his team of cheating by way of having wheels that were unfairly round… 

Biggest Disappointment:

Nominees: Dai Greene, Shanaze Reade, Perri-Shaykes Drayton. Phillips Idowu, GB Relay Teams, GB Swimming Team

Winner: Phillips Idowu

As the Olympic Games have been such an overwhelming success in London and as Team GB have for the most part been terrific it is easy to forget that there have been some major disappointments along the way. The greatest of the disappointments was arguably been Phillips Idowu both in terms of his behaviour in the lead up the Games and then his performance in the Games itself. His ‘invisible man’ act beforehand and his poor performance in the preliminary rounds of the triple jump contest at which he was eliminated will have won him few admirers and one would hope he can find a better performance soon otherwise this will have been a horrible way for one so talented to leave his sport.

Best Celebration:

Nominees: Tom Daley (Pool jump), Mo Farah (The ‘Mo-Bot’), Andy Murray (A la Pat Cash), Sophie Hoskings and Kath Copeland (Kath Copeland’s ‘The face of victory’), Etienne Stott and Tim Bailie (Capsize into the rapids), Jade Jones (Good, old-fashioned scream, roar and phist-pump)

Tom Daley Team GB

Daley’s bronze medal celebration was one of the highlights of the London Games

Winner: Tom Daley (Pool jump)

There was so much reason for celebration within Team GB during Olympic fortnight that it all seems to blend into one but one of the stand-out celebrations of the Games was undoubtedly that of Tom Daley and his diving team mates. Imagine if he’d won gold…!

Superstar in the making:

Nominees: Anthony Joshua (Boxing gold medallist), Laura Trott (Track cycling double gold medallist), Jason Kenny (Track cycling Double Gold Medallist), Lizzie Armitstead (Cycling Road Race Silver Medallist), Alistair Brownlee (Triathlon gold medallist), Adam Gemili (100m semi-finalist), Sophie Hitchon (New British record holder in the hammer throw), Michael Jamieson (Swimming – Breaststroke), Jade Jones (Taekwondo gold medallist)

Winner: Laura Trott

It is hard to see Laura Trott not ending her cycling career amongst the most decorated British Olympians of all time as she has already bagged two golds at the age of 20. If she continues at her current rate then she could well be a ten-time gold medal winner if she carries on until she is Sir Chris Hoy’s current age!

Star Performer:

Nominees: Mo Farah, Jess Ennis, Laura Trott, Jason Kenny, Andy Murray, Sir Chris Hoy

Winner: Mo Farah

There have been almost too many success stories to mention for Team GB and for London over the past few weeks but the stand-out performer of the Games has to be our favourite Somalian born distance runner, Mo Farah.

Farah’s nerve, concentration, strategic nouse and physical strength have peaked at the perfect time and in becoming only the eighth person ever to do the 5,000m and 10,000m double he has written his name into the history books as one of the greatest ever Olympic athletes.

So, huge congratulations are in order to the likes of Jess, Jason, Sir Chris and Laura as well as the rest of Team GB’s medal winners  and emerging talents but perhaps even greater congratulations are due to Mo. He might not have the looks of  our “Face of the Games” Jess Ennis but who can resist a scrawny-looking, bald, bearded man win a penchant for slapping his own slap-head and for performing the now infamous ‘Mo-bot’… Sir Mo, we salute you!

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London 2012: My Top 10 Moments Of Week 2

London 2012 Closing Ceremony

London 2012 has sadly come to an end but the following are some of the memories that will last a lifetime…

Andy Murray’s Sweet Revenge:

Just a couple of weeks prior to the Games SW19 played host to Andy Murray’s proudest career achievement to date when he reached his first Wimbledon final and lost valiantly to Roger Federer, but now he can finally say that he has become a champion at Wimbledon.

He still isn’t yet a winner of Wimbledon title ‘proper’ or a Grandslam title but his fantastic performances en route to the Olympic final and then in hammering Federer in the final will have given him an enormous amount of hope in his quest to land a first Slam. It was also fantastic to see him gunning for glory on all fronts as he teamed up with his brother in the men’s doubles and with Laura Robson in the mixed doubles where they landed a deserved silver medal.

Golden Saturday:

Little can be said about Saturday the 4th of August 2012 that hasn’t already been said a thousand times but there is no way it could be left off of this list. 6 golds in one day and three of those in the space of less than an hour in the Olympic Stadium. It was awesome.

Epke Zonderland flies his way to Gold in the Men’s High Bars:

In a week of phenomenal achievements for Team GB it was tempting to fill this list with tales of home glory and triumph but one of my personal highlights of week two came in a somewhat surprising form. In the build-up to the Games I hadn’t exactly set my heart on watching an enormous amount of gymnastics but Team GB’s unbelievable success got me hooked and then a certain Mr. Zonderland  made me really sit up and take note. His High Bars routine was truly a sight to behold and he more than deserved his gold medal. If you haven’t already seen it then please use this link and do so… http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/olympics/18903127

Trotty’s Double Gold:

With some of team GB’s more high-profile members such as Jess Ennis, Mo Farah and Sir Chris Hoy delivering in fantastic fashion I felt as if young Laura Trott’s double gold went unfairly a little under the radar as did her boyfriend Jason Kenny’s double gold. Her individual winning performance in the women’s omnium was terrific and she sealed her precious second gold in stunning style by romping to victory in the final event and replacing the experienced American Sara Hammer at the top of the standings.

Ben Ainslie makes it 4 out of 4:

Ainslie yet again did it the hard way as he always seems to do as he once again he came from behind to land a stunning fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal and a third consecutive gold in the Finn class. The man is a legend and one would imagine that a knighthood could well be forthcoming.

Sir Chris replaces Sir Steve at the top of GB’s gold medal winners list:

Chris Hoy London 2012

His Royal Thighness grabbed two golds in what is almost certain to be his last Olympic Games

Chris Hoy’s outstanding performance in the Keirin was arguably the highlight of yet another stunning team performance from Britain’s cyclists at the Olympics and it saw him reach the incredible tally of six golds, one more than Sir Steve Redgrave who provided a very nice touch by going to the Velodrome to congratulate the man who has arguably deposed him as Team GB’s greatest ever Olympian.

Bolt doubles up on all three fronts:

I’m pretty certain that most people would already have regarded Usain Bolt as a legend prior to London but now he himself believes once and for all that he has the right to be called a legend. Once again Jamaica’s finest produced storming performances in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay and his second consecutive triple-gold medal haul silenced all of the doubters who thought he might not be able to match his displays in Beijing. My favourite Bolt moment from the last fortnight though was his homage to home favourite Mo Farah when he performed the ‘Mo-bot’ just after crossing the line for gold in the relay.

Farah Bolt London 2012

‘Mo Bolt’ and ‘Usain Farah’ celebrate their triumphs with each other

Brotherly love in the Triathlon:

For years I have been derogatory about triathlon in order to wind up a friend of mine who is all to keen on the sport but the truth of the matter is that triathlon is an unbelievably demanding discipline and both of the Brownlee brothers are phenomenal athletes. Tuesday’s triathlon drew an enormous crowd, one which  included myself, and Alistair Brownlee’s gold medal winning performance was well worthy of such phenomenal support.

Mo Doubles Up:

Saturday night saw Mo Farah complete arguably the greatest British athletics achievement ever as he landed the 5,000m gold medal to add to the 10,000m gold which he won a week earlier. This achievement has seen Farah soar into the realms of the greatest athletes ever to have competed at the Olympics as only seven people have ever done the long distance double at the Games.

Stephen Kiprotich defies the odds to bring glory to Uganda:

Kiprotich Marathon Winner

Stephen Kiprotich took an unlikely victory in Sunday’s showpiece event

Uganda are traditionally one of the least successful competing nations at the Olympic Games and until yesterday they were still without a medal at London 2012. However, on the final day of the Games Kiprotich stepped up to the plate and beat the favourites from Africa’s distance running strongholds Ethiopia and Kenya en route to winning the marathon and becoming not just Uganda’s first medal winner of the Games but also Uganda’s first gold medal winner in 40 years. This was a staggering achievement for one so young and it was deserving of the traditionally special medal ceremony that the marathon receives in the closing ceremony.

Gold Gold Gold Gold Gold Gold

Is it just me that has Spandau Ballet ringing through my head?

What a night it has been for British athletics and what a day it has been for British sport. Two golds on the track, one in the field and three earlier in the day shared between the river at Eton and the Velodrome at the Olympic Park. Has British sport ever seen anything like it?

I can’t quite believe we won 6 of these in a day!

Well, I certainly can’t remember a night like it and I’m pretty sure that I will never see a more superior day of British sporting excellence for the rest of my existence, nor would I really hope to as I don’t think I could bear it!

So, where to start?

Well, first of all, huge congratulations to Jess Ennis, Greg Rutherford, Mo Farah, Laura Trott, Joanna Roswell, Dani King, Sophie Hosking, Katherine Copeland, Pete Reed, Andy Triggs Hodge, Tom James and Alex Gregory. You are all brilliant and we as mere spectators of your brilliance are all indebted to you for eternity for the magnificent day of entertainment with with you have provided us!

Now, breaking it down, here is the run through of my experience of Team GB’s ‘Golden Saturday’ at the Games….

10:00 A.M: Position on the sofa assumed for a long day ahead…

10:30 A.M: Jess Ennis nails the long jump and thrusts herself well and truly into the driving seat in the heptathlon…

11:30 A.M: GB WIN GOLD IN THE MEN’S FOUR! GOLD MEDAL NUMBER ONE ON ‘GOLDEN SATURDAY’ FOR TEAM GB!!!

London 2012 Rowing Gold

Gold number one…

12:00 P.M: GB WIN ANOTHER GOLD AT ETON! KATH COPELAND AND SOPHIE HOSKINGS TRIUMPH IN THE LIGHTWEIGHT WOMEN’S DOUBLE TAKING TEAM GB’s GOLD MEDAL TALLY TO TWO ON ‘GOLDEN SATURDAY’!!!

Gold number two…

12:30 P.M: Team GB get a silver medal in the men’s double lightweight sculls courtesy of reigning Olympic champions Zak Purchase and Mark Hunter. The pair were desolate in the wake of their ‘failure’ to get the gold but they performed manfully and shouldn’t feel ashamed at all…

1:00 P.M: Usain Bolt begins his Olympic campaign and though this would usually have thrilled the nation, his sluggish heat win paled in comparison to the level of excitement developing for Team GB on ‘Golden Saturday’. Adam Gemili also began his 100m campaign and he looked very good in his run to a second placed heat finish to winner Asafa Powell. Gemili won’t medal but he could make the final if he can find a PB on Sunday…

1:20 P.M: Dwain Chambers also qualifies for the next round of the 100m by winning his heat in an impressive time of 10.02 seconds. It was always going to be interesting to see how well he would be received by the crowd and though I have no affection for him whatsoever I am still pleased to report that he got a very warm reception as it would have been pretty awkward had he not…

1:30 P.M: My girlfriend left my house. Usually I wouldn’t report this as a significant event but the fact that she was then on her way to the Olympic Stadium as she had tickets for the phenomenal night ahead makes it rather more relavant… Lucky git…

2:00 P.M: Jess Ennis nails the javelin also which is often her achilles heel, throwing a lifetime best distance of 47.59 metres! This was the moment where I and the whole nation finally accepted that our ‘face of the Games’ would indeed win the gold medal she so deserved…

2:30 P.M-5 P.M: Many hours spent sulking because I wish I had a ticket for the Olympic Stadium…

5:00 P.M: I went for a jog and was of course pretending that I was Mo Farah. I convinced myself for a few seconds that I was actually a little too fast to be Mo before then realising that in reality I am actually horribly unfit…

5:30 P.M: Andy Murray and Laura Robson triumphed in the semi-finals of the mixed doubles in the tennis competition guaranteeing themselves a medal winning finish. Olympic tennis usually fails to capture my imagination but today changed everything for me. The nerve and resilience shown by our pair in their back-to-back Saturday afternoon wins over Australia and Germany was captivating and they fully deserve at very least a silver medal, which is now the minimum possible reward for their efforts. Andy Murray now has a shot at two gold medals on Sunday…

6:15 P.M: GOLD FOR GB IN THE WOMEN’S TEAM PURSUIT AT THE VELODROME! TEAM GB’S THIRD MEDAL OF GOLDEN SATURDAY! TAKE A BOW LAURA TROTT, DANI KING AND JOANNA ROSWELL!!!

Gold number three…

7:00 P.M: GB’s athletic’s team captain Dai Greene took to the track for his 400m hurdles semi-final and the world champion had a shocker! A 4th placed finish saw him scrape into the final by the skin of his teeth and in hindsight maybe this was the price all us Brits had to pay for the success lying in wait on ‘Golden Saturday’…

8:20 P.M: Greg Rutherford landed a major blow in the long jump final with a leading jump of 8.21 metres and the vaguest possibility of three Olympic golds in one night for Team GB’s athletics team dared to creep it’s way into the nation’s minds…

8:40 P.M: Michael Phelps won gold as part of the USA’s relay team in the 4x100m medley final in what was his last ever competitive race but I didn’t care because GB were on course to win 3 golds in a night! OK, I did care really… What a man. What an Olympian. 22 Olympic medals and 18 of them Gold. Is he the greatest sportsman of all time?

8:55 P.M: Time for Jess to finish off a job bloody well done… The nation awaits…

9:00 P.M: Jess only went and bloody well won her 800 didn’t she! It would have been so easy for her to just pace her way to a comfortable finish high up the field but the determination she showed to win her race was phenomenal. GOLD MEDAL NUMBER FOUR FOR TEAM GB ON GOLDEN SATURDAY!!!

Jess Ennis London 2012

Gold number four…

9:05 P.M : Rutherford extended his lead in the long jump with a terrific leap of 8.31 metres, a second gold in a matter of minutes became an even greater possibility for Team GB

9:20 P.M: Mo Farah begins the 10,000m and the Olympic Stadium erupted as the realisation of three potential athletics golds in one night started to really dawn on the nation…

9:25 P.M: Greg Rutherford stuffed up his ‘jump of honour’ but who gives a toss?! GOLD FOR TEAM GB IN THE LONG JUMP, 2 ATHLETICS GOLDS AND FIVE TEAM GB GOLDS ON GOLDEN SATURDAY!!!!

Greg Rutherford London 2012

Gold number five…

9:45 P.M: MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! FARAH WINS GOLD IN THE 10,000 m AND TEAM GB GET THEIR SIXTH GOLD MEDAL OF GOLDEN SATURDAY!!!!!!!

Mo Farah London 2012

…and Mo makes it six!

9:50 P.M: Jamaica get their gold in the women’s showpiece athletics event with Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce defending her Olympic title in 10.75 seconds. Usually the 100m finals are the more memorable moments of the Olympics but Fraser-Pryce’s terrific defence of her title was a little lost amidst the British Euphoria at the Olympic Stadium…

10:15 P.M: Team GB’s male footballers crashed out to South Korea in the quarter finals in a penalty shootout. Usually I would have cared but not tonight. Very little could have happened to dampen my mood and I’m sure that was the case for the vast majority of British sports fans!

 

Saturday the 4th of August will undoubtedly go down in history as one of it not THE greatest day of all time for British sport. 6 Olympic golds and a few more medals to boot. If you didn’t shed a tear at some point today then you might as well leave Britain and never come back…

 

London 2012: 10 Days To Go, 10 Team GB Stories In The Making

With time running out until the start of the biggest and best celebration of world sport that Great Britain has arguably ever had the honour of hosting, the pre-Games excitement is reaching fever-pitch as the athletes flock to the Olympic Village and to the various other parts of the country where they’re required to be for their parts in proceedings.

There will undoubtedly be a wealth of huge stories to emerge over the next few weeks both in London and across other parts of the British Isles but with just 10 days to go until the official start of the Games I have picked out 10 big stories that could be set to unfold within Team GB.

Adam Gemili (Men’s 100m):

He may not be tipped to be in the dog-fight for medals in his first ever Games but many are tipping Gemili to break the 10 second barrier at the Olympics and if he does so it would make for a phenomenal story.

Gemili World Juniors

Gemili is one of the rising stars of British athletics and could be set to further enhance what has been stunning summer of personal achievement

It is enough already that the 18 year old has made the Team GB squad having barely taken the sport seriously up until the past twelve months or so, but if Gemili can plot a way through the heats then a time of less than 10 seconds may well be on the cards and that would represent yet another phenomenal achievement for the youngster.

Gemili has also made himself practically un-ignorable in terms of selection for the 4x100m relay squad with his recent form and perhaps he could make the difference and help push the team towards medal contention.

Bradley Wiggins (Men’s Cycling, Time Trial):

Wiggins Le Tour

‘Wiggo’ is well on course to win Le Tour, could another gold medal follow?

With Wiggins currently breaking records in the Tour De France and with him looking set to become Britain’s first ever winner of cycling’s showpiece event, this could prove to be yet another huge summer for British cycling and that is before we even reach the Olympic Games where we will once again be expected to blow away much of the competition in several different disciplines.

If Wiggins were to win Le Tour and then come back to London and win another Olympic gold medal it would be hard for anybody to rival him in terms of British sporting hero status this year.

Team GB Football (Men’s and Women’s):

This is not a sport which Team GB are particularly well acquainted with given that we have never entered a Women’s team and that we haven’t entered a Men’s side in a very long time but if either of our sides make it out of the group stages at the Games then they will fancy their chances of getting themselves into serious medal-winning contention.

Pearce GB

Pearce courted with controversy when he left David Beckham out of his squad for the Olympics

The only tickets I have for the Games are for the Men’s final of the football at Wembley Stadium so lets hope for my benefit at least that Team GB can do the business!

Robbie Grabarz (Men’s High Jump):

Grabarz High Jump

Grabarz is amongst Team GB’s greatest hopes in the field events

Since the days of Jonathan Edwards dominating the triple jump and Steve Backley simultaneously competing with the likes of Jan Zelezny in the javelin, Team GB have struggled to produce much in terms of major male competition for medals in field events but with Robbie Grabarz tipped for a medal at this summer’s Games things could well be about to change.

Christine Ohuruogu (Women’s 400m):

Reigning Women’s 400m Olympic champion Ohuruogu hasn’t exactly enjoyed the best years of her career since Beijing in 2008 but recent signs suggest that she could well be timing her charge for further Olympic glory rather well.

Ohuruogu London Grand Prix

Ohuruogu is not quite at her best but her recent form has been encouraging

She may well be a little way off the world’s leading times for this year but her performance in the 400 at the London Grand Prix over the past weekend suggests that she could well still have a hope of getting herself into contention for the medals in spite of the injury and confidence problems she has suffered since her lasting outing at the Games.

The strength she demonstrated to power through the field over the last 5o metres of Saturday’s race at Crystal Palace had all the hallmarks of a classic Ohuruogu triumph and if the weather is as bad as it was the other day when the Women’s 400m final takes place at the Olympic Stadium in a couple of weeks time then she would have to be considered a serious threat.

Lutalo Muhammad (Men’s Taekwondo):

Arguably the most controversial of all the decisions made by the panel of selectors for Team GB was the omission of World Number One Aaron Cook for the Men’s Taekwondo squad.

Muhammad London 2012

Lutalo Muhammad’s controversial selection at Aaron Cook’s expense has the makings of a classic Olympic story

Instead, the selectors have opted for Lutalo Muhammad who is ranked just 59 in the world but many who know far more about the ins and outs of Taekwondo than myself are tipping him to make a big impression this summer. He may not be as strong as Cook on paper but those in the know think he could well be a major medal contender and who am I to disagree?

We will no doubt never hear the end of it if Muhammad doesn’t win a gold medal, so lets just hope he does even if just for the sake of the selectors!

Phillips Idowu (Men’s Triple Jump):

Idowu is undoubtedly one of Team GB’s most decorated track and field stars of recent times but four years ago in Beijing he was on the end of a shock result when he managed just a silver medal in the Men’s Triple Jump when many expected him to land gold and now he could well be cruelly denied the chance to avenge this missed opportunity because of injury.

Idowu Silver Medal

Idowu has a point to prove after his disappointment in Beijing but injury could yet prevent him from showing his best

With such little time remaining before the Games get under way and with such little time to go until Phillips will be called into action, he is probably the most high profile injury concern of the entire Team GB squad. He is though still set to try and compete and perhaps the dampened expectations of him due to his current injury struggles will help him go under the radar and land the gold medal he so craves.

Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis (Men’s 5,000/10,000m and Women’s Heptathlon):

The evening session of August the 4th is set to be arguably the biggest night of the Games for Team GB as it plays host to poster-girl Jess Ennis’ efforts to try and win the Women’s Heptathlon and also to one of our greatest gold medal hopes in men’s athletics when Mo Farah is set to compete in the Men’s 10,000m final.

Farah Ennis London 2012

Farah and Ennis are arguably Britain’s two greatest hopes for gold medals in the Olympic Stadium

This evening session of athletics will undoubtedly be one the most sought after tickets for all Team GB fans and the prospect of us landing two track golds in the space of an hour is truly mouth-watering.

Ben Ainslie (Men’s Sailing, Finn):

Ben Ainslie

Ben Ainslie begun the Olympic Torch’s journey around Britain at Lands End and now he is search of a fourth Olympic gold

He is already considered one of of Great Britain’s all-time greatest Olympians for having won gold medals at each of the last three Olympic Games as well as a silver medal in Atlanta in 1996 but if Ainslie were to win yet another gold this summer then he may well jump even higher up the list.

Surely only the likes of Sir Steve Redgrave still stand between him and the title of being our greatest ever Olympian and it would be interesting to see whether he will get the praise he deserves if he triumphs yet again, as he is often the forgotten man in such debates.

Andy Murray (Men’s Tennis Singles and Doubles):

Having endeared himself to much of the British public who still had their reservations about him with his run to the Wimbledon final this summer, Andy Murray now has a great chance to go one step closer to becoming a fully-certified national hero in the Men’s Singles competition at the Olympics.

Andy Murray Wimbledon 2012

Murray performed brilliantly at the All England Club a couple of weeks ago and now he is aiming to produce a similar level of form and grab a first Olympic medal

Even if he doesn’t fare well in the Singles he has the lifeline of competing alongside his brother Jamie Murray in the Men’s Doubles  at the Games and they as a pair would have to be considered serious contenders for a medal.

Wimbledon 2012: Piecing Together The Tournament’s Best Male Player

Every year our TV screens are awash with a Stat-Attack throughout Wimbledon fortnight so I have used the official Wimbledon statistics website to piece together the men’s tournaments most successful players in all areas of the game and tried to come up with a resulting amalgamation of a player that would be unbeatable on the courts of the All England Club. Here goes nothing…

Federer wins Wimbledon

Roger now has seven titles to his name at Wimbledon and he features heavily in the component list for my imaginary hybrid player…

Serving Power: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga topped the charts with the tournament’s fastest individual serve when he rattled an 140 mph-er past Andy Murray in the Semi-Finals.

Aces: Philipp Kolschreiber produced the most aces in tournament with an impressive total of 98 at an average of around 20 per match on his journey to the Quarter-Finals where he was beaten by Tsonga.

Serving Accuracy: The tournament’s highest serving accuracy statistic belongs to Albert Montanes who landed 80% of his 1st serves in play. The Spaniard did however have little else to cheer about in his tournament as he fell at the very first hurdle.

Winning Points On 1st Serve: The big-serving Croat Ivo Karlovic produced a percentage of first serve points won of 86%, which is hardly surprising given the speed and angle his enormous frame helps him generate when his first serves find their required destinations.

Winning Points On 2nd Serve: Ernest Gulbis produced the tournament’s finest record in terms of winning points on his own 2nd serve with an impressive 66%. Sadly though this impressive stat couldn’t save him from an early second round exit from the competition.

Winning Points Against The 1st Serve: The now seven-time champion of the All England Club, Roger Federer, managed an impressive tournament topping total of 186 points won against his opponents 1st serves, which is of course a statistic aided by the fact that he played more matches than any other player in the tournament other than Andy Murray who also played seven times but his average of around 27 points won against the first serve per match is also superior to all other players in the draw.

Winning Points Against The 2nd Serve: Andy Murray, the beaten finalist at this year’s championships, topped the charts in this category with an enormous tally of 192 points won against his opponents 2nd serves throughout the tournament. His nearest challenger in this category was Federer who beat him in the final but the gap between the two in this department was a gaping 40 points.

Break Points Won: The tournament’s most prolific breaker of serve was unsurprisingly it’s champion, Roger Federer. Rodge notched up 38 breaks of serve in his seven matches in the tournament, 8 more breaks than his nearest challenger both in this category and in the tournament as a whole, Andy Murray, who managed 30 breaks of serve.

Break Point Conversion: Without a pause for thought you might just assume that the tournament’s strongest performers in this department would have the highest percentage of break point conversion but actually logic prevails and two first-round flops Simone Bolelli and Thomas Berdych share the honour of having converted 100% of their break points in the Championships. This, if you think about it, is an unsurprising outcome as they only managed one break a-piece in their only matches of the tournament.

(All stats provided by the official Wimbledon website: http://www.wimbledon.com/en_GB/scores/extrastats/rally_count_ms.htm

The Conclusion:

So, according the official stats for the tournament the make-up of this year’s perfect men’s player at Wimbledon would be the serving power of Tsonga, the Ace-making ability of Kolschreiber, the 1st serve accuracy of Montanes, the 1st serve points conversion of  Karlovic, the 2nd serve points conversion of Gulbis, the 1st serve returning talents of Roger Federer, the 2nd serve returning talents of Andy Murray, Federer’s prolific serve-breaking powers and finally the break point conversion and ruthlessness of Berdych and Bolelli.

Unsurprisingly, it is Federer that has dominated proceedings in the creation of this Wimbledon ruling hybrid player make-up but there were also a fair few surprises thrown into the mix. The fact that Federer topped the most categories though goes a long way towards explaining why he won his seventh Wimbledon crown and why he could yet go on to win even more, he has an exceptional all-round game and over the past fortnight very few challengers have been able to live with him! Surely, he can for now be labelled at very least the equal best player of all time?


Maturing Murray the Protagonist in British Tennis’ best fortnight in 35 years

Andy Murray’s four-set defeat to Roger Federer in the men’s singles final at Wimbledon may have been a bitter blow for Murray and his ever-growing fan-base to take but his well navigated journey through to the final, in which he gave his all, proved to arguably be the highlight in what was ultimately a very encouraging couple of weeks for British tennis.

Murray Wimbledon 2012

Murray took another step closer to Grandslam glory but was denied by the wonderful Roger Federer

He may have been the star of Britain’s Wimbledon fortnight but for a change he wasn’t alone in bringing joy to the ever-faithful British tennis following who battled through some of the worst conditions the All England Club has ever had to deal with during their busiest period of the year. Thank god we now have a roof on Centre!

In the women’s championship the British fans were treated to predictable opening round victories for Anne Keothavong and Elena Baltacha before second round exits for the pair and to the equally predictable host of first round exits but among the first round exits was that of Laura Robson who continues to look more and more adept at Grandslam level in spite of her loss.

Topping Robson’s efforts though was Heather Watson who played as well as we have ever seen the youngster manage at Grandslam level in convincing straight-sets victories in the opening two rounds, even if she did then go on to get firmly put in her place by eventual ladies finalist Agnieszka Radwanska in round three. It may not seem that exciting on the face of it that one of our female competitors managed to make the third round but she was the first to do so in a decade which was great to see from one so green.

In the men’s championship there was also a couple of rays of light to accompany Watson’s showing and Murray’s best performance at Wimbledon to date. These came from youngster Oliver Golding who threatened an opening round victory over the very experienced Igor Andreev before losing in four sets on his Wimbledon men’s debut and James Ward who managed a victory in the opening round of his Wimbledon bow before losing in five sets to 10th seed Mardy Fish.

The fact that Golding’s tight opening round loss, Ward’s debut victory and Watson’s run to the third round are being seen as encouraging signs may reek of desperation amongst British tennis fans to see the good in what is really a disappointing crop of players but it does seem that British tennis is slowly improving across the board and that our group of British females in particular are beginning to make more of an impression at the highest level.

The two genuine success stories though for British tennis during Wimbledon fortnight were those of Johnny Marray who became the most unlikely of victors in the men’s doubles with parter Frederik Nielsen and of Andy Murray who took his quest for Wimbledon and Grandslam glory a step further in reaching his first Wimbledon final and in winning his first ever set in the final of a Grandslam event.

Marray Nielsen

Who had honestly seen Marray play before Wimbledon fortnight? I know I hadn’t!

Marray and Nielsen’s win in the men’s double may not match up to what might have been had Murray landed the men’s singles title but it is an achievement which must lift the heart of all real British fans. It really has made for an astonishing tale of triumph against all the odds and it was a pleasure to watch Marray become the first British man in over 70 years to lift  the men’s doubles trophy and the first Brit to win a senior’s Wimbledon title since Jamie Murray won the mixed with Jelena Jankovic a few years back.

It was genuinely exciting as a British tennis fan to get to watch two of our players make the finals of their respective competitions this weekend and though Marray’s triumph would have been sacrificed by nearly all British fans in exchange for a Murray triumph in his final it was still an enormous pleasure to behold both matches and Murray far from undersold himself in his defeat.

Though we have still been left longing for a winner of a men’s singles victory in one of the four Grandslam events, Murray’s performance in the final and the performances he produced in the previous rounds of the tournament were beyond anything that we have seen from a male competitor in a Grandslam since Fred Perry way back in the 1930’s and the demeanour which Murray has shown throughout the competition was so much more positive and endearing than anything we have seen before from the young Scotsman.

I have always been frustrated by the criticism which Murray has been targeted with by many Brits in that he is a professional sportsman and not a comedian or a tv personality but I concede that it would be beneficial for Murray to become more endearing and engaging as a public persona and I hope that not only his interview blubbing episode but also his on-court and off-court character, throughout the entirety of this tournament in particular, has helped him in becoming so.

I personally have always managed to see something beyond the ‘dour’ and ‘bleak’ public persona which people have attributed to Murray but the past couple of weeks in particular have definitely seen him become a little more at ease with the glare of the media and of the expectant British nation and perhaps it is this sense of Murray maturing and becoming more comfortable with the limelight which has made him get closer than ever before to winning a Grandslam title.

Hopefully this perceived improvement and greater demonstration of his emotions will continue to have a positive effect on his game and I think it is clear to most now that Murray can win a Grandslam title and that he probably will do at some point. If he needs any greater source of belief to cling to than his own undoubted ability in his unrelenting quest to become a Grandslam winner, then he would do well to look to Johhny Marray’s success story for inspiration.

Marray and Nielsen’s win may have been something of a ‘freak’ victory but perhaps it will take something freaky for Murray to finally get past the awesome trio of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in a Grandslam event, which I for one think he will do at some point in the next couple of years.

Call me deluded but I honestly think he will not only go the distance once in a slam but that he will still go on to win more than one. Perhaps this is far too much wishful thinking on my part though… We can but dream….

Crunch time for Murray as the Aussie Open heads into the Quarters

With a lack of free-to-air coverage of the Australian Open you’d be forgiven for feeling a little bereft of ‘Murray-Mania’ and perhaps even for being completely unaware that the Scotsman has once again advanced to the final eight of a Grandslam event.

Murray has breezed through the early rounds in Melbourne

Thus far, Murray has come up against the talented US teen Ryan Harris in the opening round, Edouard Roger-Vasselin, the awkward Michael Llodra and the in-form Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan. Each of the four matches have provided their own unique dangers, but Murray has dealt well with all comers to date and has only dropped a single set en-route to the Quarters.

His most recent triumph against Kukushkin had the edge taken off of it by the Kazakh’s injury problems, which were almost certainly down to the tough five-set battles that he had endured in the lead up to his encounter with Murray.

Having defeated strong opponents such Viktor Troicki of Serbia and the mile-a-minute Gael Monfils of France, both of whom were seeded in the top 20 for the first ‘Slam’ of the Year, Kukushkin appeared to be in great shape ahead of facing up to Murray (mental shape that is). Unfortunately though, his endeavours in these impressive scalps left him with little left to offer physically against the fourth seed and Murray eventually ran out a comfortable victor by a scoreline that read 6-1 6-1 1-0 prior to his opponent’s retirement.

Not only was it nice for the Scot to bag another big winning margin, but by virtue of his opponent’s premature departure he only needed to be on court for a measly 49 minutes. This will undoubtedly have been welcomed not only by his body but also his fare Scottish skin which would have been taking a severe pounding in the baking Melbourne sun.

With this win Murray has progressed to the last eight at a ‘Slam’ once again and only Japan’s Kei Nishikori stands between him and a place in what would be his fifth consecutive Grandslam Semi-Final appearance. Though Nishikori has impressed en-route to these latter stages of the tournament, he like Kukushkin has had to grind his way through two five-setters already and Murray will look to make not only his superior game but also his fresher body count when they come head-to-head.

Nishikori earned his showdown with Murray through a brilliant win over Tsonga

Murray’s comfortable navigation through the early rounds in Melbourne has once again stirred up public belief, perhaps even personal belief, that the Aussie Open provides the greatest opportunity for him to break his Grandslam duck.

He has previously made it to each of the last two finals at the tournament and has forever spoken fondly of his time ‘Down-Under’ and his comfort on the harder surfaces of Grandslam tennis. Couple this with the sizeable gap between the US Open and the Australian Open and it becomes clear that this tournament will provide him with a significant opportunity on an annual basis.

This lengthy gap between the current ‘Slam’ and the previous one means that Murray’s major rivals Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are likely to have not had the opportunity to have constructed significant runs of devastating form as they are all capable of in more fixture-heavy periods of the year. Therefore, going in to the start of the new year Murray will know that if he gets himself in perfect physical shape and practices hard that perhaps the gap between him and his arguably more illustrious rivals will be at it’s very slimmest, not that there is a huge gulf as it is.

So then, victory over Nishikori would mean a match up with the world’s most feared player of the moment in the form of Djokovic and then who knows who he would face if he triumphed again. In all likelihood Murray will have to defeat two of the world’s top three players if he is to land his first Grandslam win this week, and although he is painfully aware of the difficulty of this task he will be high on confidence and hopeful as ever. COME ON ANDY!

Djoko Proves He Is Numero Uno

Another glorious fortnight has come and passed for Novak Djokovic, and another Grandslam success has left everyone wondering how on earth he is going to be brought back down to earth. Last night’s epic against Rafael Nadal was an exhibition of patient and deadly tennis from start to finish. As he has done all year, he went toe-to-toe with Nadal in every long, hard-hitting and gruelling rally and more often than not he came out on top. The brutal nature of this match was most evident in their incredible 17 minute long game on Nadal’s serve in the second set. Mark Petchey (Sky’s commentator) added perspective when he said that you “can get full sets of tennis that only last that long”, it was a phenomenal demonstration of physical and technical ability from both men but there was a sense of inevitability about it’s eventual victor.

Djokovic looked pained in the fourth but still came through in style

This game further underlined Djokovic’s fantastic year which has seen him win 10 titles, win 3 Grandslams and only suffer 2 defeats. This has been the stuff of dreams for the Serb and doesn’t he just know it. More to the point doesn’t Rafael Nadal just know it…

The likes of Nadal and Roger Federer have too had magnificent years of domination since their emergence as the super powers of World tennis, but I don’t think either of them would argue that they’ve been quite this brilliant over the course of one season. It is outrageous that anyone could reach this stage of the year with only two losses (one of which was due to retirement) in any generation of men’s tennis, let alone in arguably the greatest and strongest era of all time.

Federer ousted Djokovic at the French

Federer is widely regarded as the best player ever and he has only managed one victory of Djokovic this year, and Nadal has been labelled the major threat to Federer’s crown but he hasn’t managed to beat Djokovic at all this year. The only man other than Federer to beat him this year was Andy Murray and though Murray controlled the match throughout it was eventually due to retirement that he prospered, and it remains unclear whether Murray’s domination was down to Djokovic’s inhibited play. Even in spite of the immense competition at the top of the men’s game, this year Novak has been simply untouchable.

This year has been a masterclass from Djokovic and he has taken he some of the greatest players of all time out of their comfort zones on a consistent basis. It is fair to assume that Federer and Nadal would regard Djokovic as the significant threat to their legacies and that in itself is great testament to his ability and incredible form. So is it too early to considered one of the greatest players of all time? Maybe it is, but this past year has certainly written his place in the history books.

Given the level of Novak’s domination this year the next few months are incredibly important for all of his rivals in preparation for the next Grandslam event, the Australian Open, in January. In the wake of the US Open it seems there is an awful lot of ground to make up but there have at least been some glimmers of hope for the chasing pack in the last major of the year. The first man to really cause concern for Djokovic was his compatriot Janko Tipsarevic who matched up well to his more illustrious friend in a four-set match that resulted in his retirement through injury. This challenge was followed up by a huge scare against Federer who threw away two match points having led the Serb by two sets to love, but somehow Novak managed to find a way to summon the energy and nerve to battle back and take it in five.

Winning Smile and a tribute to 9/11

It is said that true champion’s come up with the goods when their backs are against the wall, and at the moment that is a key element to his success. Some time in the future his form is inevitably going to run out and tougher times will face him but for now it is unclear when that time will come and who will be the players that can bring about something of a demise in his fortunes. We know of course that the likes of Federer, Nadal and Murray can compete strongly with him when they are at the top of their games but who else could give him a sleepless night or two? Perhaps some of the more extroverted and athletic competitors on tour like Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Juan-Martin Del Potro could manage to ruffle his feathers but it is hard to see where a consistent threat is going to come from outside of the World’s top four players.

For now Nole is number one and it appears that he could be there to stay for quite a while. Next on his agenda is the aim of completing a career Grandslam and who’s to say that he can’t go on and do it?

 

Wimbledon 2011: Players of the Tournament

10. Feliciano ‘Deliciano’ Lopez:

This long haired Spaniard has caused quite a stir at Wimbledon over the past fortnight, just ask Judy Murray… Aside from his rise to prominence amongst the attentions of the female public, he played some good tennis as well. He has often flattered to decieve, but this time around he delivered in a Grandslam event. Though he is unlikely to win such a Tournament, it was encouraging to see him put his great power in to effect, defeating the likes of fans favourite Andy Roddick along the way. It was a shame to see him sell himself a little short against Murray in the Quarters and perhaps he should have pulled out of the Doubles competition in order to focus on his Singles efforts.

Judy's favourite

9. Andy Murray:

What on earth can you say about Murray that hasn’t already been said? He is undoubtedly a fantastic talent and is undoubtedly one of the top four players in the world. Sadly this has once again proven too little to take him to a first Wimbledon final, but three semi-finals is indicative of a build in consistency and momentum and we look forward to seeing if he can go one step further next year. He demonstrated a greater level of control and maturity on and off the court throughout these championships which should serve him well.

Another close-call for Andy

8. Victoria Azarenka:

With the women’s game stuck in something of a rut at present, it is encouraging to see the likes of Azarenka coming to the fore. She is young, plucky and her movement is superb. Whether she has quite reached the level of a world number four is unclear, and this ranking may well be courtesy of a weaker generation of female players, but she is the sort of talent which the women’s game is crying out for.

Young Belarusian hope

7. Laura Robson:

The former Girl’s Champion at Wimbledon went slightly under the radar in the build-up to the tournament amidst the slightly quicker rise to professional prowess of fellow young Brit Heather Watson. However, Robson joined other British hopes Anne Keothovang and Elena Baltacha in the second round at SW19 whilst Watson succumbed to injury in her first round. The only shame for Robson was the misfortune of being drawn against former Ladies Champion Maria Sharapova. At this level Robson was still a little short, but she far exceeded many people’s expectations even going a break up in the first set before losing it to a tie-break. There are several areas of improvement in her game, most significantly her poor movement, but the way in which she fought right until the end of the defeat has impressed many.

Britain's Ladies future in safe hands

6. Sabine Lisicki:

The young German lady with the huge serve conjured up some moments of sheer magic over the first ten days of the tournament. Her recovery from career threatening injuries was timed well as she went in to the tournament high on confidence following a grass-court title win in Birmingham prior to the Championships. This confidence turned itself into huge performances knocking out high seeds Li Na and Marian Bartoli en route to the Semis. Eventually she met her demise at the hands of Sharapova and she has the right to feel a little aggrieved given Sharapova’s inconsistencies throughout the match. Despite not going all the way to Saturday’s final she has had a fantastic fortnight, and is another great sign of encouragement for the Women’s game.

Injury-plagued Lisicki comes good

5. Rafael Nadal:

It seemed for a while that not even injury could stop the Spanish ace from notching up his 11th Grandslam title. However, Rafa was eventually defeated in the final by the ludicrous form of Novak Djokovic. This defeat is his fifth straight defeat against Djokovic which will be a cause for concern, but once again Rafa displayed outstanding mental and physical strength and fought from behind against Juan Martin Del-Potro and Andy Murray. Another great campaign from the Majorcan, but this time no title.

More injury worries for the ever-impressive Nadal

4. Jo Wilfried-Tsonga:

The French’s new favourite and everyone else’s second favourite player after these past few weeks in London. Tsonga followed up his incredibly exciting and sometimes unnecessarily dramatic displays from his road to the final at Queens with a similar range of showings at SW19. He powered, dived and entertained his way to his first Wimbledon semi, and it appears that the athletic Frenchman is starting to realise his potential. His real glory moment was his outstanding comeback from two sets down against Federer, in which he demonstrated a new found maturity and some real moments of class. He has a great game for the grass courts at Wimbledon and his brave showing against Djokovic in the semi-final will also stay long in the memory. This match saw three incredible points at least, and he has gained a whole army of new fans.

3. Maria Sharapova:

Double-faults aside, Sharapova has had a fantastic tournament. It is a delight to see her injury-free and smiling again on the grass at Wimbledon. The women’s game has lacked real characters and presence in recent times, and the return to form and prominence of the talented and glamorous young Russian is so important. If she can eradicate the needless errors on serve then it seems likely that she will go one step further soon and add to her collection of three Grandslam victories.

A welcome return to form

2. Petra Kvitova:

The young Czech female Champion has proved the pick of the Ladies game this fortnight. She has played out of her skin and has demonstrated her comfort when playing on the grass at Wimbledon. Her forehand has been the key to her success as she has hammered her way to a first Grandslam success. With time on her side as well it seems likely that Kvitova is here to stay and that she can go and secure further successes at Wimbledon and in other future Grandslams. She had to see off five seeded players en route to her first Grandslam victory and made former Champion Sharapova pay for her needless errors throughout the final.

Czech-Mate

1. Novak Djokovic:

Another fortnight, another Grandslam victory for the irrepressible Serb. It has been yet another fantastic tournament for Djokovic, artfully defeating the likes of Bagdhatis, Llodra, Tomic, Tsonga and Rafael Nadal on his journey to success. A maiden victory at Wimbledon will on Monday see him deservedly assume the number one world ranking in Men’s tennis from his latest conquest Nadal. If his year continues in the same manner as it has begun up to this point, then we could well be witnessing one of, if not, the finest year of Men’s tennis ever played. At the moment he seems to have a hold over his greatest rivals and in particular Rafael Nadal, a man who has never really been matched by anyone in his career to date. Nadal conceded that Djokovic is pretty much the only player in the world who can beat him at the moment, and this is great testament to the mind-blowing form of the outstanding Djokovic. He will have to come back next year and defend his new-won title against some of the greatest players the game has ever seen, but I am sure he is already relishing the prospect.

Another magical day in 2011 for Djokovic

Moody Murray No Longer?

The public perception of Andy Murray both on and off the court has always been a little strained.

He has established an on court persona which has led many to believe he is just a spoilt kid with a lot of talent. This perception has always seemed immensely unfair to me given the circumstances existant within contemporary tennis. He is, as we are constantly reminded, still a young man. Not only this but he is a young man that is desperate to achieve highly in what is arguably the most competitive era that men’s tennis has ever seen. To outclass and outshine all comers and then fail to jump the final hurdle against the likes of Nadal, Federer and Djokovic must hurt him. As such it must be incredibly frustrating for a talented individual like Murray who arguably would have already won a handful of Grand Slam titles if he were competing in a slightly weaker era.

Murray beginning to show a lighter side

Such frustration does tend to manifest itself in on-court agitation and tantrums, but this is true of legends such as John McEnroe also. Could it be that such strops became rather an endearing quality within McEnroe’s game? There was certainly a greater air of comedy about his personal outbursts and umpire conflicts than Murray’s expressions of his own low temper threshold. Is Murray really that much more negative though that he is deserving of the wave of stick that he tends to be subjected to? Perhaps not.

In addition to his on-court problems, Murray has forever endured public scrutiny for his media relations. Of course we would love all the world’s major sports stars to be at ease in front of the media and rattling out streams of memorable press conferences, but that simply isn’t Murray. It is not in his nature. Naturally he is a fairly shy man off the court and as such he doesn’t exactly relish being constantly thrust into the gaze of the media. He has needed to accept that such attention comes as part of the package of status and privilege, but still it is hardly surprising that he often loathes such spotlighted treatment.

Downcast Murray in a Press Conference

Murray has become accustomed to such criticism, however, in recent times he has seemed to break these shackles. Whether this is resultant of a conscious decision to boost his public image or not is unclear. One thing is clear though, and that has been this recent transition and increasing popularity.

Maybe such a transition can be attributed to an ever-increasing realisation that Murray is well and truly up against it. Perhaps the public are merely beginning to demonstrate a greater understanding of the depth of competition which Murray must face in order to go on and win a Slam. Couple this understanding with Murray’s improving on-court temperament and the predicament begins to make more sense.

We know for sure that Murray has invested time in improving the psychological side of his game. This has included meetings with fellow British sporting talents such as David Haye, a man Murray admires greatly. Scarcely could you encounter two sports men with more differing approaches to the media spotlight, and the very fact that Murray has sought Haye out could be indicative of his desire to enhance his public image. It could well be that such meetings and advice have contributed to Murray’s recent exhibitions of ‘show-boating’ on the court.

This has been evident in his recent grass-court victories over Jo-Wilfred Tsonga and Ivan Ljubicic. These performances have seen Murray unleash what is in danger of becoming a trademark shot where he elegantly performs something of a step-over combined with the cheekiest of dinks through his legs. Such ‘peacock-ing’ in high profile victories is something which requires immense confidence and self-belief coupled with a desire to entertain beyond the call of duty. Perhaps this arrogant edge and willingness to amuse the public is a major sign of Murray’s growth into a greater sporting personality.

His now famous Trick Shot

Murray has dismissed his new trick shot as just something which he does to mess around in training and something which he is scared will make him look a “plonker”. So far in competitive matches though it has a 100% record of success as each of these audacious strokes have been winners.One would think that if he continues to play the role of the exhibitionist that  it will provide himself and the media with a point of interest for all that surrounds his game, something which is likely to allow Murray to gain admirers.

After a couple of days away form the court Murray will have to return on Monday to take on the wiley Richard Gasquet in what on paper appears to be a very tough and attractive match. We await to see if he will again take on the role of chief entertainer as the anticipation and hopes of the nation begin to reach fever pitch once again.