The sporting world has had its attention firmly focused on South Africa over the past couple of weeks. Meanwhile, almost unnoticed, Andy Murray has progressed to the quarter finals at Wimbledon.
Could this be the tournament that finally gives the Scot his first grand slam title?
2010 has not been the best of years for Andy Murray. It started well enough when he reached the final of the Australian Open before losing to Roger Federer in straight sets. Federer was magnanimous in victory, telling the Scot, “Andy, well done for your incredible tournament. You’re too good a player not to win a Grand Slam so don’t worry about it.”
Murray then suffered a loss of form and exited a number of tournaments in the early rounds. At the French Open he lost out in the fourth round to the Czech player Tomáš Berdych; a disappointing result, although clay has never been Murray’s favourite surface.
The relative lack of attention paid to Wimbledon this year might just be to Murray’s advantage. There is great pressure on him to break his grand slam duck, and this is only increased by the media
The path to the quarter finals has been a smooth one for Andy Murray. Straight sets victories over Jan Hajek, Jarkko Nieminen, Gilles Simon and Sam Querrey have all been straightforward with Murray playing some fine tennis, although he has struggled with his serve at times. And he is the only one of the eight men remaining not to have lost a set in the tournament.
Next up is world number 10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. If Murray plays to the form he has shown he should get past the powerful Frenchman. Murray’s return of serve has been very consistent so far, and he will need this weapon against a serve and volley type of player.
If Murray does progress to the last four things will get very much more difficult.
His likely semi-final opponent is world number 2 Rafael Nadal of Spain. The French Open champion would be a very tough opponent indeed. Nadal, always seen as a clay court specialist, has improved his grass court game considerably in recent years.
And, assuming there is not a major shock along the way, Murray would then face arguably the best player ever. Roger Federer has reached the last seven Wimbledon finals, winning six of them. He would be firm favourite and Murray would have to be at the peak of his form to triumph. But he might just do it.
So Murray again has the chance to become the first Scot to win a Grand Slam tournament, and the first British man to win one since Fred Perry in 1936. It is not going to be at all easy to secure the victory that would take his career to the next level – although Andy Murray could be up to the challenge.
Wimbledon is perhaps Murray’s best chance to break his duck – so let’s hope that this is his year!