What Andy Murray's achievements tell us about ourselves
Andy Murray had played the longest ever World Finals tennis match in his semi-final against Milos Raonic just 24 hours before the head-to-head clash with Novak Djokovic. The winner would decide the World's best tennis player of 2016. Experts, Tim Henman, Andrew Castle and Stefan Edberg all said it was a match 'too far' for Murray, and that Djokovic would extend his 24-10 record over the Scot and reclaim the coveted Number 1 ranking. 1 hour 42 minutes and two sets later, the experts were saying Andy Murray has surprised us all, yet again!
Andy Murray first became the second best tennis player in the world on 17 August 2009. Seven years and three months later he achieved the feat of going from number 2 to number 1. Interestingly, Murray never really focussed on achieving the number 1 ranking per se. He knew that if his performance levels were good enough, the ranking would take care of itself. He didn't expect to have to wait quite so long, but then tennis has never had the likes of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic all in the same era blocking his path.
Watching Murray is not for the feint-hearted. He is capable of unbelievable brilliance shortly followed by frustration as a weak second serve is punished again. He's not easy on the eye either, playing with a ferocious intensity. It's this bloody-minded attitude that I thought belonged to 'others' rather than us Brits, that sets him apart. Chase down one more ball, make the opponent play one more shot, don't give anything away.
The never say die attitude means that when the consistency of an opponent drops slightly you can capitalise. There's no doubt that Djokovic has come off the boil by a degree (albeit from an incredible position) and Murray was there to take advantage.
The humility of both players at the end was a lesson to us all. Leave absolutely everything out on court, but when the match is over, so is the battle. I know a £1,000,000 runners-up cheque helps sweeten the pill, but Djokovic's post-match comments were most impressive, as were Murray's of the opponent he'd just beaten.
It will be interesting to see how Murray 'wears' his new label. I suspect it will drive him even further forwards. The next time these two players meet might be the Australian Open Final in Melbourne in January. Djokovic has won the event six times, Murray never. Murray has three Grand Slams to the eleven of Djokovic. If Murray gets to four down-under we might see 2017 as his dominant year. He'll believe it and who would bet against him now?
Determination, belief and humility. All three elements cost nothing, are available to you and look how far you can get with them. A lesson to us all.