The rise of Andy Murray as tennis and sporting superstar was complete just a few days ago, when he completed his journey to become officially the best player in the world. The first British player to become World Number One since rankings were categorised in the sport back in 1973. In a sport with such great champions like Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, a young Scotsmen from a small town called Dunblane has overtaken them all to become the best. But just how has he done it?
Born in Dunblane in May 1987, Murray had an older brother Jamie, both of which grew up playing tennis as a passion. The brothers went over to Spain when they were young to learn the tricks of the trade, whereby they met a young Novak Djokovic and Murray the younger played their first match and won comfortably, which went on to be the first of many tussles the two would have. When Murray won the junior US Open, it was clear he was destined for great things.
It didn’t take much time when he made the jump up to the senior game for Murray to be successful. After turning pro in 2005, just a year later Murray won his first ATP Tour title in San Jose. Another two years later in 2008, after consistent progression through the rankings, Murray reached his first Grand Slam final, again at the US Open. Losing in straight sets to Roger Federer, Murray had still left his mark, particularly after a remarkable semi-final victory over the then World Number One Rafael Nadal.
Three Grand Slam finals and three defeats later, the London Olympics came around and the first major honour came his way when he won Gold, beating Federer in straight sets in the final. Coming just a month after defeat in the Wimbledon final to the Swiss legend, this proved again that Murray was on the map. Later in the year, the first Grand Slam came in the US Open, the first for a British man since Fred Perry in 1936.
The arrival of Ivan Lendl as coach helped Murray go from strength to strength, and the tournament the whole country wanted him to win came a year later. He beat Novak Djokovic in straight sets to clinch the first Wimbledon title for a British man also since 1936. Murray was on top of the world and it seemed nothing could stop him.
The next couple of years saw less success, but the Davis Cup of 2015 saw Murray complete another milestone in an ever growing list of accomplishments. With Djokovic dominating the Grand Slams it looked bleak for Murray after losing the French Open final to the Serb. However, the Wimbledon title came again for the Scot.
With the Serb’s surprising dip in form, a shock third-round exit for Djokovic was followed by a first-round exit in the singles at the Rio Olympics. Murray on the other-hand, after a couple of escapes, Murray retained his Olympics title. After winning four ATP titles in a row in Beijing, Shanghai, Vienna and Paris, it was confirmed Murray was the new World Number One.
He may have a temper in-rivalled by many, but off the court the influence of Lendl is clear. The arrival of daughter Sophia and the marriage to long-term partner Kim has clearly had an affect, with the dedication to each tournament and the work he has put in with those distractions remarkable. Many may dislike his aggression on the court, me being one of them occasionally, but you have to admire his determination in recent weeks and consistency that Djokovic has simply not shown.
Looking ahead to next year, Murray still has to perform in the ATP Tour Finals to finish the year as number one. With Wimbledon, the US Open, Olympic Gold medal and the Davis Cup all already in the bag, the remaining Grand Slams in Australia and France will undoubtedly high on the priority list. Almost everything in the game has already been accomplished by the Scot, so those would complete the trophy cabinet.
Regardless though, Murray deserves to go down in the history books as one of the greatest players in history. He won Sports Personality of the year last year as well, surely that is in the bag this year as well!