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Post by legendkillar on Mon Jan 14, 2019 2:44 pm

Friday 6th July 2001. The world is somewhat shaping up to becoming a peculiar place. Having survived the millennium bug and Prince's premonition of doom in his hit 1999, the year was quite something. The year that saw British chart smashers Hear'say become the blueprint for everything that was soon to be wrong with music, David Beckham mania spread like wildfire and becoming the nation's favourite until Harry Potter was released and Daniel Radcliffe supplanted him and least we forget 9/11 which was a pivotal moment for the decade and even the century perhaps. However, what was momentous for Friday 6th July 2001 was a mania was building. Henmania had the nation gripped. Henman into his 3rd Wimbledon Semi-Final. No Sampras awaiting him after a rather nifty Swiss called Roger Federer did his dirty work. All that was left was Goran Ivanisevic. Another Wimbledon nearly man and one who's temperament denied him high levels of success. A wildcard. Ranked 125 in the world. Engaged and fixated on a self belief that now was his time and he had cut through the draw totally unfazed. 

However, it really felt this was Henman's time. Like it was an arranged marriage. Tim the groom and the Wimbledon Trophy the bride. Henman losing the first set rallied back and won the next 2 sets and broke in the 4th to lead 2-1. Then like with anything, the rain gods appeared. I am sure Cliff Richard prayed for rain so he could bellow out a few tunes like that annoying uncle who sings the whole duration of a 4 hour car journey! Even though the delay and cancellation of the day's play felt like momentum had been robbed from Henman, I still believed he could see it out. Saturday came and with it good Goran who then turned the match around. Ivanisevic took the 4th and a 3-2 lead in the 5th when rain came again. This time Goran's momentum was robbed and surely Tim would come back out Sunday roaring like the Tiger he was (irony) and sadly the Tiger in him went as flat as a soggy bowl of Frosties and Henman again was on the wrong end of a Semi final scoreline at Wimbledon. I don't think I ever felt such a sense of "that was it" the one and only big chance of British male success at Wimbledon in my lifetime. I'll always be intrigued to know what Tim did in those rain breaks. As haunting as the result is, Tim and himself during those 3 days are equally haunting. 

Forward to March 2005. Great Britain are playing Israel in the Davis Cup in the European/Africa Zone I match. A fresh faced Andy Murray is making his debut in the doubles with David Sherwood. Murray is going for every return on the serve. Almost ala Agassi. With varying degrees of success. I remember thinking, this guy could go far. Cue the grass season. Murray won his opening matches before succumbing to cramp and twisted ankle against Thomas Johansson. Then came Wimbledon. Murray beat Bastl in straights before achieving his biggest result to date. The ruthless destruction of 14th seed Radek Stepanek. It was flawless performance and for once Britain had a player that would not be fazed by who he was playing. He downed Stepanek in straights and got a lust for showtime courts and big time matches. Next was David Nalbandian and again Murray started like a house on fire pummelling Nalbandian before fatigue set in. This would later define his commitment to getting his body in shape in the peak of his career. He went to the US Open whereby there was the immortal image of him puking on court. His performances at Wimbledon gave me hope that Britain had it's best player since the Open Era was born. I believed he would win a Slam. His game was unorthodox. Some would call it junk balling, however his play was more around disrupting rhythm than the slow death ala constricting style. 

2008 was when he announced he was here. His first Masters title at Cinncy and followed that with his first US Open Final. I have to say I thought he would win. The momentum from overcoming his slog with Melzer (never forget him smashing the ball out of the stadium when he won) and besting the new World No.1 in Nadal in the semi's. An out of sorts Federer awaited in the final. The only time I've ever asked what if. What if Murray had won that match and Federer had his first slamless year in 2008? How different would the landscape have been. Still despite Federer dominating Murray, it's always a tough ask to expect someone to best at the time the best player of a generation in their first slam final. 2009 at Wimbledon was interesting as Murray in the semi's faced a rejuvenated Andy Roddick. A man he defeated in straights 3 years earlier. Similar parallels with Henman/Ivanisevic. Murray was defeated by Roddick a man it seemed he had in his pocket from previous meetings. 

By the turn of 2010, Andy had established himself from a consistency perspective in the same bracket with Federer, Nadal and Djokovic. Many scoffed because unlike those 3, the Slam count still read 0. Murray kept coming up short against Djokovic and Nadal and the reality dawned he needed a level of uber fitness to compete and surpass those 2. Every losing post match conference met with "I need to get fitter" this absolutely demonstrated Andy's methodical approach to his game and career. Whilst in principle the prospect of getting fit doesn't seem tricky given it means running, weight lifting, eating and shitting more! The game had shifted in such a direction that you needed enough in the tank to play 14 matches not 7 as such war of attritions with Djokovic and Nadal and other supporting cast members felt like playing more than 1 match. 

One of Andy's other strengths was his decision making with coaches. Petchey, Gilbert, Maclagan all served a purpose with Murray. However his appointment of Ivan Lendl was nothing short of genius. So much so, I'd say it influenced appointments of Becker, Edberg, Moya and so on. Lendl was a masterstroke. Purely because it seemed he and Murray were almost kindered spirits. Murray's career to that point similar to Lendl. Just not able to get over the line in Slams and Lendl's experience with that would ultimately help Andy more than anything else. Come 2012 Wimbledon. Andy dispatching the charismatic Tsonga in semi-finals had another date with Federer. Federer who went Slamless for the first time in 2011 was in a difficult spot. Overcoming Djokovic in the semi's, it seemed Andy had a much better chance than the previous encounters at the US Open and AO respectively. Andy finally won a set, but cue the roof and clutch play in the back end of the second set and Federer had Andy's number again. This time there were tears, but from Andy. A 4th Slam final defeat. He had equalled his mentor. Then came of a summer of labour and fruit. Andy 6 weeks on from his Wimbledon defeat to Federer downed Federer for Olympic gold thus crushing a dream of Federer's. Murray had got a monkey off his back. This culminated in a stormy US Open Final in 2012. Murray on the brink in previous rounds against Berdych and Cillic. Made it to another Slam final. However, conditions favoured him so much more and he faced Djokovic. Despite blowing a 2 set lead, Andy finally vanquished one of his conquerers and the demon of defeat and lifted his GS. Was such a surreal moment watching it. Petchey called it brilliantly "history is made" not forgotten. Was so true. We weren't forgetting Fred Perry. We now had someone else to remember for years on end. Then came 2013 and Andy at the AO faced up against Djokovic. Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda. The match in which another lapse in the second set was costly. It was quite an obvious flaw in his character. The slightest distraction was enough to throw him completely. However, 2013 was to be the year. Andy had a fortunate route to another Wimbledon final despite nearly succumbing to Verdasco and losing his cool again against Janowicz over the roof. Djokovic stood in his way again. Andy took advantage of a below par Djokovic. Watching his match points took me right back to 2001. Whereby the disheartenment I felt when Henman lost was about to be replaced. Andy finally got over the line and as Castle ecstatically stated "The waiting is over" and it was. Andy would later succeed at Wimbledon in 2016 to claim is 3rd and final Slam. 

2015 saw Andy single handily take on the Davis Cup and win. It was a superhuman effort he put in and he made more history there winning GB the Davis Cup. In singles and doubles. Warrior-esq. 

2016 for me is when his best year. His dogged determination saw an autumn and winter of sheer brutality where he chased the Number 1 ranking. He pushed the boundaries not just of himself but his opponents too. He faced Djokovic in a showdown at the ATP final for Number 1 in the world and came out on top. Anyone can win a Slam. Del Potro, Cillic, Wawrinka. Streaky players will always have those chances, but being Number 1 in the world is a hard fought slog of many tournaments and not just one that many will never achieve. To think from 2004 to 2016 only 3 players had been Number 1. It's an elite feat. What we didn't know was the ultimate physical price he would pay for that. 2 years on from that success and his body is done. 

Andy has a special place in British Sport history. When I think of so many nearly moments. Cooper not being able to keep Ali on the mat, Jacklin not being able to best Nicklaus at the Ryder Cup in 69, Radcliffe collapsing at the Olympics 2004, Montgomerie fluffing the 18th at the US Open in 2006, England heartbreak at the World Cup in 1990 and Euro 1996, Henman Wimbledon 2001. Britain sport heroes tend to be Olympians, recently rugby players, cricket players, the odd boxer. To this Andy will add his name and inspire a new generation of British tennis players.

When history reflects on this era of tennis. Federer, Nadal, Djokovic will live in the minds of those to come. When we look closely and see a small period in where a man named Andy Murray achieved similar feats on a much smaller scale. You look in other sports, some exceptionally talented England cricketers suffering under the rule of an exceptionally talented Australian team, many English golfers under the iron fists of Woods and Mickelson, England football teams. Many never took on the best and won. Andy did. Whilst his star shone what seems to brief in today's market, it shone nonetheless. A nearly man for so long, became the man.

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Post by Tenez on Mon Jan 14, 2019 8:11 pm

wow....give me a bit of time to read that. I like the fact you liked him but kept objectif about him.

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Post by Jahu on Mon Jan 14, 2019 8:15 pm

Well done LK, nice summary, seems you can do more then just mow the lawn every weekend at your in-laws  Big Grin

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Post by legendkillar on Mon Jan 14, 2019 8:36 pm

Tenez wrote:wow....give me a bit of time to read that. I like the fact you liked him but kept objectif about him.

I read an article this weekend which was aptly titled Murray the man who walked amongst the gods which I thought was quite the metaphor that really fit Murray's career. 

I would never say Murray's game was spectacular, but what he did do was give Britain a taste of success at tennis. Part of me wanted him to have won more, however when the big 3 call it a day, not only will their achievements echo for decades on end, but it does further elevate Murray's achievements and even Wawrinka's.

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Post by legendkillar on Mon Jan 14, 2019 8:36 pm

Jahu wrote:Well done LK, nice summary, seems you can do more then just mow the lawn every weekend at your in-laws  Big Grin

Like Forrest Gump I do it for free!  Laugh

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Post by raiders_of_the_lost_ark on Tue Jan 15, 2019 8:37 am

'What if'.. 

As I've seen his career, Murray has won many matches where he should have clearly lost. I'm no fan of 'scrap wins' and I didn't have any nationalist connect with him either. Hence he was never appealing to me on the court. For me, nothing at all was good about him, his service action, his foot movement, his FH, BH those agonising endless slices, you name it. He was is BIG4 just as much as Ferrer/Berdych was in BIG5. 

I like his will to win and not losing a match in the dressing room, but that is somehow just not enough for me to root for a player. I only enjoyed him throwing tantrums at his box and abusing himself. I just wished some wild moment he goes on to slap himself  ( I can imagine it, looks funny ).

Good luck Andy, you did well.

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Post by bogbrush on Tue Jan 15, 2019 9:40 am

My son and I always knew him as Napoleon Dynamite, constantly awkward and prone if asked how we had played to veer towards "worst game of my life! waddya think??".

He maximised his return very well in a difficult period to win Slams. At another time he would have been expected to win a few more.

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Post by barrystar on Tue Jan 15, 2019 10:20 am

Although he has never been a particular favourite of mine as a player, I very much agree with the generally supportive and admiring comments.

Being a multi-slam winner in this era has been a magnificent achievement (thank heavens it included Wimbledon for a Brit), but for me what would normally be 'frills' compared to mere slam accumulation are what really set up his career narrative -  getting y/e #1 in this era, leading us to a DC win, and winning the Olympics at SW19 on home turf.

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Post by raiders_of_the_lost_ark on Tue Jan 15, 2019 10:35 am

barrystar wrote:Although he has never been a particular favourite of mine as a player, I very much agree with the generally supportive and admiring comments.

Being a multi-slam winner in this era has been a magnificent achievement (thank heavens it included Wimbledon for a Brit), but for me what would normally be 'frills' compared to mere slam accumulation are what really set up his career narrative -  getting y/e #1 in this era, leading us to a DC win, and winning the Olympics at SW19 on home turf.
 He did well for British tennis (though he openly endorsed Scotland out of GB). I thought he played his best match against Fed in the Shanghai 2010 final. He had many wins on Fed previously but it was mainly because Fed wasn't even considering him his rival. Maybe he still doesn't consided Murray as a threat to him as a rival, since the match was always on Fed's racquet. 

His best matches against Nadal were the Madrid final win. His best match against Djo was WTF 2016 where he had all on the line and usually would bottle, but he didn't let this one go. SO well done.

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Post by legendkillar on Tue Jan 15, 2019 10:40 am

raiders_of_the_lost_ark wrote:'What if'.. 

As I've seen his career, Murray has won many matches where he should have clearly lost. I'm no fan of 'scrap wins' and I didn't have any nationalist connect with him either. Hence he was never appealing to me on the court. For me, nothing at all was good about him, his service action, his foot movement, his FH, BH those agonising endless slices, you name it. He was is BIG4 just as much as Ferrer/Berdych was in BIG5. 

I like his will to win and not losing a match in the dressing room, but that is somehow just not enough for me to root for a player. I only enjoyed him throwing tantrums at his box and abusing himself. I just wished some wild moment he goes on to slap himself  ( I can imagine it, looks funny ).

Good luck Andy, you did well.

I've lost count on many players winning matches they shouldn't have. It's not scrappy wins I dislike, but ones where players just gift a match because they are overcome by the occasion or opponent. 

Ferrer/Berdych same category? Nah. 

Most here probably identify more from a partisan/nationalist perspective. He went with that real brutish physical game as it eventually got him over the line. Like you I agree he had a lot of mental frailty against the Big 3 for sure.

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Post by barrystar on Tue Jan 15, 2019 11:16 am

legendkillar wrote:
raiders_of_the_lost_ark wrote:'What if'.. 

As I've seen his career, Murray has won many matches where he should have clearly lost. I'm no fan of 'scrap wins' and I didn't have any nationalist connect with him either. Hence he was never appealing to me on the court. For me, nothing at all was good about him, his service action, his foot movement, his FH, BH those agonising endless slices, you name it. He was is BIG4 just as much as Ferrer/Berdych was in BIG5. 

I like his will to win and not losing a match in the dressing room, but that is somehow just not enough for me to root for a player. I only enjoyed him throwing tantrums at his box and abusing himself. I just wished some wild moment he goes on to slap himself  ( I can imagine it, looks funny ).

Good luck Andy, you did well.

I've lost count on many players winning matches they shouldn't have. It's not scrappy wins I dislike, but ones where players just gift a match because they are overcome by the occasion or opponent. 

Ferrer/Berdych same category? Nah. 

Most here probably identify more from a partisan/nationalist perspective. He went with that real brutish physical game as it eventually got him over the line. Like you I agree he had a lot of mental frailty against the Big 3 for sure.

I guess it's the old chicken and egg - but is mental frailty not too simplistic an explanation? I'd have it that, being the better players, on most days each of the Big 3 would start vs. Murray with the match more or less on his racquet (match-up being Fed-Djoko-Nadal in increasing order of general unfavourability).  To win Murray would have to get everything on song, which is extraordinarily difficult and failures to keep that sort of standard up for long enough to win a match vs. an all-time-great are usually more complex than mere mental frailty.  

One thing that always frustrated me about Murray was his general failure to address the weakness of his second serve, and the inevitable fillip that would have given to opponents, leading to huge pressure on his first serve, which would be far worse when playing against the Big 3.

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Post by Tenez on Tue Jan 15, 2019 2:45 pm

bogbrush wrote:.... At another time he would have been expected to win a few more.

One could argue against that. I think he was lucky to have peaked in an era where hard word paid more than at other times thanks to new strings and new diet not available a decade ago.

If conds had been quicker and one had to SVing to win slams like in the past...I am not sure he'd have done as well.

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Post by bogbrush on Tue Jan 15, 2019 4:22 pm

Or perhaps he wouldn't have had to embrace extreme fitness so much and retained the more creative game he first brought, the one that had Nalbandian being toyed with until Murray ran out of gas.

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Post by noleisthebest on Tue Jan 15, 2019 4:32 pm

barrystar wrote:One thing that always frustrated me about Murray was his general failure to address the weakness of his second serve, and the inevitable fillip that would have given to opponents, leading to huge pressure on his first serve, which would be far worse when playing against the Big 3.

And therein lies the question and answer to all his tennis problems.

I'm not sure how accurate the saying "a player is only as good as his 2nd serve" is, but in Murray's case it surely proves correct.

Behind it all is the lack of guts. Murray always chose to play a passive game, in the early days he was pushing the ball, later muscling it.
Later under Lendl he fabricated a big inside out forehand which he used to attack in limited bouts of aggression.
But in the heart of hearts he was always passive.

In his case, having grown up without a father and witnessing/surviving Dunblane massacre, I kind of feel for him and can see why he could not overcome the fear.

Still, he managed to overachieve and have a great career. He probably wouldn't've won any slams had he not put his body through the mill...so in a way it all evened out, and he'd've done it all over again.

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Post by noleisthebest on Tue Jan 15, 2019 4:40 pm

LK, nice, romantic overview of the bygone era...it looks like it was all ages ago now.
Until quite recently, I was dejected about how everything went down the pan, tennis, "world", SBH etc etc...but now my perspective has changed and all that past is now a stored away memory.

Time for new joys, new rivalries...the almighty law of life - show must go on.

To you, Murray is like Nole to me (probably not to that extreme, but then again Serbs and English are very different), so it's great you were able to take that pride in your man.

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Post by noleisthebest on Tue Jan 15, 2019 4:44 pm

raiders_of_the_lost_ark wrote:'What if'.. 

As I've seen his career, Murray has won many matches where he should have clearly lost. I'm no fan of 'scrap wins' and I didn't have any nationalist connect with him either. Hence he was never appealing to me on the court. For me, nothing at all was good about him, his service action, his foot movement, his FH, BH those agonising endless slices, you name it. He was is BIG4 just as much as Ferrer/Berdych was in BIG5. 

I like his will to win and not losing a match in the dressing room, but that is somehow just not enough for me to root for a player. I only enjoyed him throwing tantrums at his box and abusing himself. I just wished some wild moment he goes on to slap himself  ( I can imagine it, looks funny ).

Good luck Andy, you did well.

lol rotla!
I am with you here. Murray surely was a character.

Though, I liked his honesty which somehow managed to came across even though he followed Gilbert's school of "winning ugly".
And that anecdote when he bought a Ferrari and then sold it a week later because he felt like a posing idiot in it.

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Post by legendkillar on Tue Jan 15, 2019 6:33 pm

barrystar wrote:
legendkillar wrote:
raiders_of_the_lost_ark wrote:'What if'.. 

As I've seen his career, Murray has won many matches where he should have clearly lost. I'm no fan of 'scrap wins' and I didn't have any nationalist connect with him either. Hence he was never appealing to me on the court. For me, nothing at all was good about him, his service action, his foot movement, his FH, BH those agonising endless slices, you name it. He was is BIG4 just as much as Ferrer/Berdych was in BIG5. 

I like his will to win and not losing a match in the dressing room, but that is somehow just not enough for me to root for a player. I only enjoyed him throwing tantrums at his box and abusing himself. I just wished some wild moment he goes on to slap himself  ( I can imagine it, looks funny ).

Good luck Andy, you did well.

I've lost count on many players winning matches they shouldn't have. It's not scrappy wins I dislike, but ones where players just gift a match because they are overcome by the occasion or opponent. 

Ferrer/Berdych same category? Nah. 

Most here probably identify more from a partisan/nationalist perspective. He went with that real brutish physical game as it eventually got him over the line. Like you I agree he had a lot of mental frailty against the Big 3 for sure.

I guess it's the old chicken and egg - but is mental frailty not too simplistic an explanation? I'd have it that, being the better players, on most days each of the Big 3 would start vs. Murray with the match more or less on his racquet (match-up being Fed-Djoko-Nadal in increasing order of general unfavourability).  To win Murray would have to get everything on song, which is extraordinarily difficult and failures to keep that sort of standard up for long enough to win a match vs. an all-time-great are usually more complex than mere mental frailty.  

One thing that always frustrated me about Murray was his general failure to address the weakness of his second serve, and the inevitable fillip that would have given to opponents, leading to huge pressure on his first serve, which would be far worse when playing against the Big 3.

Not simplistic. Might seem generic and broad, however there have been some big matches AO Finals 2013/15 and Wim finals 2012 when he started quite brilliantly whereby small moments AO Finals (MTO and moth) whereby it threw his concentration and in the Wim final whereby IIRC net chord followed by a brilliant BH which on top of the roof closing threw him. 

There was for me an inherent fear in his play against them in terms of he never found a deep enough length in rallies whereby he enabled them to take the incentive (he essentially surrendered control) when actually if he backed himself, I think he could've taken more incentive.

Re second serve. Did that really cost him matches? Much easier to enhance strengths rather than work of weaknesses which wouldn't convert to more match wins.

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Post by legendkillar on Tue Jan 15, 2019 6:34 pm

bogbrush wrote:Or perhaps he wouldn't have had to embrace extreme fitness so much and retained the more creative game he first brought, the one that had Nalbandian being toyed with until Murray ran out of gas.

^^ this.

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Post by legendkillar on Tue Jan 15, 2019 6:40 pm

noleisthebest wrote:LK, nice, romantic overview of the bygone era...it looks like it was all ages ago now.
Until quite recently, I was dejected about how everything went down the pan, tennis, "world", SBH etc etc...but now my perspective has changed and all that past is now a stored away memory.

Time for new joys, new rivalries...the almighty law of life - show must go on.

To you, Murray is like Nole to me (probably not to that extreme, but then again Serbs and English are very different), so it's great you were able to take that pride in your man.

Thanks NITB. Everyone bemoans Murray, as they do Djokovic and Nadal. However, when you think of what they brought out of each other, it highlights that Murray was a worthy adversary. Murray was there with them for the most part at their most successful, even it was in a more spectator capacity on the over side of the net Winking

Murray gave me so many memories and was part of such a great time in tennis. You may have witnessed yourself and seen the heartache with fans who lived through the Henman years. Murray took those near misses and broken hopes and made them a reality. As for Djokovic, I think he may have a deeper meaning given I imagine from the ashes and dust of wars, the brightest flower will grow through and I think Djokovic is an exceptional example.

Speaking of new stars and rivalries. Watched Shapovalov earlier. Decent performance and he certainly looks like a great in the making (hopefully)!

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Post by summerblues on Wed Jan 16, 2019 1:22 am

legendkillar wrote:However, it really felt this was Henman's time.
This must be a British site.  It never felt like it was Henman's time.

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Post by legendkillar on Wed Jan 16, 2019 5:51 am

summerblues wrote:
legendkillar wrote:However, it really felt this was Henman's time.
This must be a British site.  It never felt like it was Henman's time.

Nah. I just don’t think you existed when Wimbledon 2001 played out.

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Post by Jahu on Wed Jan 16, 2019 8:58 am

Thx god Goran saved the W that year, though Tim was superb even on multiday SF.

Sure Tim not sure would of beaten Philipussy in he final, but if one W should of been his, it was this.

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Post by legendkillar on Wed Jan 16, 2019 9:21 am

It wasn’t Philopussy in the final!!

Was Rafter who Henman dispatched at Wimbledon previously smiley

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Post by Jahu on Wed Jan 16, 2019 1:57 pm

Sorry misunderstood the year/Rafter smiley

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Post by summerblues on Thu Jan 17, 2019 2:10 am

legendkillar wrote:
summerblues wrote:
legendkillar wrote:However, it really felt this was Henman's time.
This must be a British site.  It never felt like it was Henman's time.

Nah. I just don’t think you existed when Wimbledon 2001 played out.

Henman was a top 10/top 20 player who could play well on grass.  Could he have won Wimbledon?  Yes, if stars aligned he could have.  But only a Brit could have felt in 2001 like it was "his time".  He needed to beat an aging but otherwise superior Ivanisevic and then Rafter in the final who was at least his equal.

I imagine Rafter fans felt it was his time too (wrongly, but with more justification).

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Post by raiders_of_the_lost_ark on Thu Jan 17, 2019 10:53 am

bogbrush wrote:Or perhaps he wouldn't have had to embrace extreme fitness so much and retained the more creative game he first brought, the one that had Nalbandian being toyed with until Murray ran out of gas.

Can you please elaborate on this? Just out of memory, I think the earliest I can remember him play was from 2006 when he beat Federer. But back then he played just solid trying to keep low of errors and mostly trying to draw errors from Federer. And this I suppose is how he has been playing mostly all his life. What is the 'creative game' which I missed?


some highlight I found on this match. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GI0zP1Tqh6I

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Post by legendkillar on Thu Jan 17, 2019 12:52 pm

summerblues wrote:
legendkillar wrote:
summerblues wrote:
legendkillar wrote:However, it really felt this was Henman's time.
This must be a British site.  It never felt like it was Henman's time.

Nah. I just don’t think you existed when Wimbledon 2001 played out.

Henman was a top 10/top 20 player who could play well on grass.  Could he have won Wimbledon?  Yes, if stars aligned he could have.  But only a Brit could have felt in 2001 like it was "his time".  He needed to beat an aging but otherwise superior Ivanisevic and then Rafter in the final who was at least his equal.

I imagine Rafter fans felt it was his time too (wrongly, but with more justification).

The stars did align! 

I doubt it would be restricted to only a Brit rating Henman favourite out of the last 4 to win Wimbledon in 2001. So I ask why you feel Rafter was more justifiable than Henman? If you could provide that without citing 1) He won the US Open or 2) He made the final the previous year. 

I don't think anyone seriously felt Goran was going to win Wimbledon (until he made the final), more so going into Wimbledon with 8 match wins! Unless of course you are in the minority with Legg Syndrome.

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Post by Slippy on Thu Jan 17, 2019 1:20 pm

Henman was a top 10/20 player on hard courts. On grass, he was easily top 5. It’s highly questionable whether Goran at his best was a better grass court player than Henman and he was far from his best by 2001. There was also the small matter that their h2h record was 4-0 to Henman. I’m fairly convinced that Henman would have won that match relatively comfortably had it finished the first day. 

Rafter’s record at Wimbledon, save for a run to the final the year before, was inferior to Henman’s who had also beaten him the only time they’d played there. I doubt he’d have been bookies favourite had both made the final.

In short, Henman was probably slight favourite of the three players left once Rafter took out Andre. His krptonite on grass was Sampras (and latterly Hewitt) both of whom had departed earlier, with Henman then beating Federer in the QF. 

The idea that it was his time, having lost in the QF to Sampras in 2 of the past 3 years, is a far more reasonable position to adopt than SB’s position, which seems to be he was a plucky underdog against superior players.

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Post by Slippy on Thu Jan 17, 2019 1:21 pm

Good article by the way LK!

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Post by summerblues on Fri Jan 18, 2019 4:04 am

I would not say Henman was a plucky underdog vs Ivanisevic and Rafter.  I would say he would have been a favorite (albeit not a very very strong one) vs Ivanisevic and about even money vs Rafter.  To say it was "his time" suggests more - it suggests that he was either the favorite or in some other way "deserving" of winning the title.  He was neither.

I imagine that before the 2014 USO final, fans in Japan and Croatia could have felt like it was Nishi's and Cilic's time, respectively.  For people elsewhere, it was two second tier players both having maybe a chance of a lifetime....  … and both maybe being lucky that the chance ever came.

Henman's 2001 is similar.  He was always unlikely to ever have his time at Wimbledon - was just not good enough.  2001 was the one year where he could have lucked out, but he was not good enough even so.

Maybe hard to appreciate it from within the UK - I imagine there must have been fair amount of hype around Henman in those years.

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Post by legendkillar on Fri Jan 18, 2019 8:33 am

The term "his time" is however you want to interpret it. If you read the article you would see it was a live account of the time and relevant to time which was a SF. I think you are seriously clutching at straws and know it simply by the refusal to state why you believe Rafter was a bigger favourite than Henman. I know if I asked you who you made favourite out of the 4 at the time, you wouldn't answer and so I won't bother asking. If you read further you would see I offered the view Goran could argue it felt it was his time (more so if you've ever read his interviews post the event).

The point is his luck was in as the one player who beaten him at SF previously had been eliminated and the players remaining I would've made him favourite against comfortably.

Yes you can make the argument for the USO final. Because again, at the time you wouldn't have both players as multi slam finalists or even winners for that matter (despite Cillic going on making a Wimbledon final appearance). As the article is stating, "at the time"  

It doesn't require one to be in the UK to appreciate him or admire Henman's play. That's just a simplistic narrow view. It seems you are basing it on your view and assuming it's the consensus across the board.

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Post by Slippy on Fri Jan 18, 2019 10:35 am

I’m curious SB - if you had to list the best players not to have won a slam in the last 25 years, would Henman be in the top 5? If not, who would be?

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Post by barrystar on Fri Jan 18, 2019 11:04 am

I agree with LK that 'his time' is a fair enough description of the state of play for both Henman and Ivanisevic at the beginning of their Wimbledon 2001 SF with Agassi and Sampras out of the way.  I remember thinking that Henman would make the final (I had been there on QF day when he beat Federer and Ivanisevic beat Safin and he had looked the best of the four on court that day).  However, I thought that Rafter would take it against either of them.  

Rafter was inconsistent, but nonetheless a double-slam winning former #1 who had fought his way to his second W final in a row and was the highest seed left - for me 'his time' was even more apposite for Rafter than the others.  Henman's greatest weakness to me was that his serve was not something he could easily rely upon to gain free points and maintain hard won scoreboard pressure - too often he needed to back up a serve with a volley which was far from a put-away.  He excelled at that, but it takes a toll over the course of a match.

I remember being hugely frustrated, probably even more so, only six months later when the Aus Open 2002 draw fell open after R3 leaving Henman the highest ranked in the last 16; and he lost to the unseeded Bjorkman over three sets in R4.

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Post by legendkillar on Fri Jan 18, 2019 11:23 am

I would've given the edge to Henman still barry. In that tournament his volleying was the best I had seen from him at Championships since the 1999 event. 

I agree though the lack of effective first serve was a huge weakness in his game and probably the biggest factor in him not winning a Slam. Though his BH slice was sublime and for me his best weapon. 

A thorough-bred grass player for sure which I miss so much in today's game. 

Good call on the 2002 AO. Forgot about that tournament.

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Post by summerblues on Sat Jan 19, 2019 1:03 am

legendkillar wrote:refusal to state why you believe Rafter was a bigger favourite than Henman.
In your question you wanted to pre-empt two of the biggest reasons - that he had been a proven slam champion and that he had been to the final the year before.  So I do not think your question was serious.

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Post by summerblues on Sat Jan 19, 2019 1:13 am

Slippy wrote:I’m curious SB - if you had to list the best players not to have won a slam in the last 25 years, would Henman be in the top 5? If not, who would be?
I have not thought much about it.  I doubt he would make it.  Off the top of my head, I would probably have Ferrer, Tsonga, Berdych, Nalby and Davydenko ahead of him, and I suspect there would be more if I went further back.

Plus there would be a number of additional players that would be comparable to him (e.g., Nishi, Corretja, Martin, Haas etc) - maybe a little worse, maybe a little better, but not much to separate Henman from them or vice versa.

So at best Henman would be among maybe a dozen of players with a claim to be around #5-#7 best player to not have won the slam over the last 25 years.

I am not quite sure where you are going with this though?  Players like these do not generally strike me as someone who would be worthy of getting "their time" to win a slam, but rather as someone who would have needed to luck out to do so.


Last edited by summerblues on Sat Jan 19, 2019 1:23 am; edited 2 times in total

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Post by summerblues on Sat Jan 19, 2019 1:20 am

barrystar wrote:I agree with LK that 'his time' is a fair enough description of the state of play for both Henman and Ivanisevic at the beginning of their Wimbledon 2001 SF with Agassi and Sampras out of the way.  […] for me 'his time' was even more apposite for Rafter than the others.
Well, if put this way I would not disagree. smiley

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Post by legendkillar on Sat Jan 19, 2019 9:49 am

summerblues wrote:
legendkillar wrote:refusal to state why you believe Rafter was a bigger favourite than Henman.
In your question you wanted to pre-empt two of the biggest reasons - that he had been a proven slam champion and that he had been to the final the year before.  So I do not think your question was serious.

I re-empted those reasons because far too generalised at a time in the game before homogenization was rife. Henman had beat Rafter at Wimbledon in their previous encounter. For me, Henman was stronger on the volleys whereas I'd give the edge to Rafter on the serve. 

Just to be clear, I would never have Henman as a multiple Slam champion. 1 Wimbledon would've been more than enough. At that time in the semi's, when I weigh up who was left, for me Henman was the favourite. The rain delays impacted more on him than Goran sadly. For Henman during those championships, the draw opened up a peach. 

History is done and Henman never won Wimbledon. Interestingly in 5 of his 6 semi final appearances he lost to the eventual champion, a tiny consolation. 

Btw your list to Slippy, I got 4 out of 5 Winking I had Dimi in there instead of Ferrer (which peaks my curiosity)

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Post by summerblues on Sun Jan 20, 2019 3:04 am

legendkillar wrote:Btw your list to Slippy, I got 4 out of 5 Winking I had Dimi in there instead of Ferrer (which peaks my curiosity)
Ferrer is an odd case.  If going by my gut feeling, I would have Berdych and Tsonga easily ahead of him.  But he probably has better record than either of them so I found it hard to include them but not him.

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Post by Daniel2 on Mon Jan 21, 2019 6:04 pm

Wawrinka has the same number of slams and didn't get favourable draws or conditions to do it. And started winning late.  Murray's attitude was piss poor and that's why he didn't win more.

As for Henman - he was a silver spoon, middle class nancy.  A pure bottler. It's lucky he won 0.

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Post by legendkillar on Mon Jan 21, 2019 6:23 pm

But had zero weeks at No.1. Wawrinka the epitome of streaky. More so than bacon!

I've always wondered how Henman's father always gets a seat in the Royal Box year on year?! Anyone got the answer to that one?

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