Britain has its first men’s world number one tennis player since the ATP tour points system was introduced in 1973, and that man’s name is Andrew Barron Murray. The 29-year-old from Dunblane reached the pinnacle of men’s tennis following the withdrawal of Milos Raonic in the Paris Masters semi-finals this past week.
Murray did not rest on his laurels, and would go onto beat American John Isner 6-3, 6-7, 6-4 in the final on Sunday to claim his eighth title of an incredible 2016. Triumphs in Vienna, Shanghai, China, Rome and at Queens complete his six tour titles in an exhausting year. He won his second Wimbledon title – and third Grand Slam overall – in July by emphatically beating Canadian Raonic 6-4, 7-6, 7-6 on centre court.
The Rio Olympics were Murray’s next destination, where he retained his gold medal beating Argentina’s Juan Martín del Potro 7–5, 4–6, 6–2, 7–5 in the final to became the first player, male or female, to win two gold medals in the tennis singles events. Yet another record for Murray.
The Scot has always received great praise for his work ethic and dedication, and this all began at a very young age. His mum (and biggest fan) Judy Murray took him onto a tennis court for the first time aged three, he played in his first competitive tournament aged five, and was competing locally against adults aged eight. An avid footballer who turned down a trial at Rangers to focus on his tennis career, at 15 he asked to attend the Sánchez-Casal Academy in Barcelona – where he also studied – as he saw it as the best place to train and hone his skills.
He always described this as a ‘big sacrifice’ but I think we can all agree that it has paid off tenfold. As a side note, his accumulated winnings, estimated at around £40 million, has more than paid off the £40,000 cost of his 18 month stay in Barcelona.
The new world number one’s journey to the top has been long and arduous – spanning 11 and a half years – and he has had his fair share of heartaches. These include losing his first four Grand Slam finals, as well as the infamous day he was reduced to tears in front of the whole nation following his first Wimbledon final in 2012, where he fell to Roger Federer – despite becoming the first Brit to reach the final since 1938.
However, the successes have far exceeded the shortcomings in his glittering career, amassing 42 titles – including two Wimbledon titles – a US Open title, and two Olympic gold medals: this surely places him as one of the all-time greats. It is true that Murray currently has fewer career Grand Slam titles than his three main rivals (Djokovic, Nadal and Federer) but that takes nothing away from his incredible achievements, considering that he has competed in the greatest era in men’s tennis history and has more than held his own for over a decade. At only 29, there are still plenty of Grand Slam titles up for grabs for Murray to add to his already remarkable trophy cabinet.
Who would have believed that the fresh-faced Scot who appeared at Wimbledon 11 years ago would have gone on to have the career that he has had? Murray had always stated that his dream was ‘to win a Grand Slam’. He has done so much more; reinvigorating interest in British tennis, and inspiring future generations of young tennis players seeking to follow in his footsteps but, most importantly, he has proved that with hard work and dedication you can achieve anything you have ever wanted and more.
11 and a half years. 799 career matches. 622 career wins. 42 titles. Three Grand Slams and two Olympic Gold Medals. Our world number one.
Image courtesy of Marianne Bevis