Andy Murray in the Rain
Just a few weeks after losing to Federer in his first Wimbledon final, Andy Murray stepped on the to the centre court to take on the Switzerland tennis team in the Olympics. Fortunately for him, though, Federer was not the man on the other side. It was Stanislas Wawrinka. Murray won the match easily to a scoreboard that read 6-3 6-3. Such a result was predictable. But for someone who watched my the match closely, it would have been difficult to ignore the way Murray’s game got better in the second half, when the downpour of rain had reduced considerably. Because of rain, the match had to be played under the retractable roof.
For over hundred years at the Wimbledon there was no roof to avoid the rain. Rain remained an elusive factor to the players who had to suspend the game and then pray to the holy gods that the rain stops sooner or later based on their convenience. Rain was an opportunity for a losing player. It gave him time to go back to the locker room, think and asses his game, talk to his coach and come out as a better player. It often resulted in the winning player lose some of his momentum and the game was back at par.
The roof was installed in the year 2009. Andy Murray seems to have a certain liking towards it. Incidentally the first match to be played entirely under the roof was between Murray and Wawrinka in the fourth round that year. This year Murray and Federer were the first men to contest a Wimbledon final under the retractable roof. But playing under the roof so many times hasn’t helped Murray overcome the minor problems associated with it.
In his opening match against Wawrinka in the London Olympics 2012, Murray saw his game dip down when the rain started hitting against the roof causing a lot of noise. The noise may not pose serious trouble, especially in a match where players are at high levels of concentration. But the noise does have its own problems.
As most professional players would say, tennis is as much a game of the ears as it is of the eyes. The sound made when the opponent strikes the ball is distinctive to each shot and it is integral part of a player analysis how well his opponent has hit the ball. Good players rely on such soft techniques. Under circumstances wherein a player finds it difficult to hear the sound, it is as though a certain sense organ of theirs has been removed. It makes them insensitive to that important aspect of the game.
This was the same problem that players felt when about grunting. The opponent making a noise while striking the ball can eliminate the perception which the striking sound creates. In the game between Murray and Wawrinka, it was clear that both men were suffering because of the sound. When the intensity of the rain came down, the perception of sound was better and the players played to their potential. Andy Murray grabbed the opportunity with both his hands ad took Wawrinka down 6-3 6-3.
He said that he was honoured to be playing in front of Roger Federer (who was also in the stadium at that time). He left the ground officials in shock when he complained that there had been a leak and he could see water drip from the roof near his bag. The officials aren’t going to be happy about the fact that their 100 million pound roof is not as functional as it should be.
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