• Chris Wilkinson

Gold can be springboard to grand slam glory for Murray

Chris Wilkinson August 7, 2012 « Police investigate banana claim | Chartbeat test »
Andy Murray must use Olympic gold as a springboard to grand slam success © Getty Images
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Andy Murray, Olympic gold medallist. It might not have quite the same prestige as Wimbledon champion, but it's got a nice ring to it.

Murray is just one of a number of British Olympic heroes this week - the Games have gripped the nation. The British athletes are feeding off each others' confidence - Murray admitted he was inspired by Mo Farah's 10,000m victory on Saturday night - and he channelled that inspiration to strike gold - and silver.

If you had said the men's final was going to be one-sided, I don't think anyone would have expected it would be Murray who came out on top in a battle with Roger Federer.

He needed to get a good start, and he had to fend off a couple of break points early on. But he hung on and then took his chance, and never allowed Federer back in the match. Federer was a little bit off-colour, Murray was completely on top of his game. Throw in the Team GB wave of confidence and the combination of those factors was remarkable.

It was like all the pieces of the jigsaw finally came together. He will take so much confidence from that victory - he has now won a best-of-five sets final for the first time. It may only be worth 750 ranking points, but you could see what Olympic gold means to him - and that was amplified by the fact that it was at Wimbledon.

He was so fired up, and his attitude was phenomenal all week. I think he won over a lot of critics after his Wimbledon defeat and he was feeding off the electric atmosphere at the All England Club.

"So much of tennis is about confidence and belief - Murray will take bucket loads away from the Olympics."

In the past it has been hard for him to pick himself up after a grand slam final defeat, but being able to stay on grass and the motivation of his home Olympics really made the difference.

Looking at Murray's reaction after his victory, you can see how much it means to him - and to all the players. Olympic singles gold is currently worth fewer ranking points than a Masters title, but I think this tournament has shown it should be worth at least a thousand. That said it could be seen as unfair because there is no qualifying for the Olympics - you have to be selected by your National Olympic Committee.

As Novak Djokovic showed last year, so much of tennis is about confidence and belief - Murray will take bucket loads away from the Olympics. The next few weeks will be interesting - but providing he can adapt quickly to the hard courts, he really should arrive at the US Open on a crest of a wave.

Djokovic's unbeaten start to 2011 all came around as a result of his Davis Cup win with Serbia at the back end of 2010. Winning the Olympics can do the same thing for Murray, knowing he is the Olympic champion and can win big matches will give him the edge.

Silver was a great achievement for Murray and Laura Robson © PA Photos
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It was a shame he couldn't make it double gold in the mixed doubles - but considering how little Murray and Robson have played together, reaching the final was a great achievement. As wildcards they beat some really established doubles players en route to the final and only narrowly missed out to the top seeds and multiple grand slam champions Victoria Azarenka and Max Mirnyi.

If you had told Murray he would leave the Olympics with two medals of whatever colour I think he would have been happy with that. And it's a great achievement for Robson - remember she is only 18 - this is the biggest achievement of her career and will give her a lot of confidence.

Federer has missed the chance to make his career Grand Slam a golden one, but I doubt we'll see him in Rio in four years' time. He's got a singles silver and doubles gold and I'll think once he is over the disappointment of losing the final he will be content with that.

In all honesty, I think what will have upset Federer more than not winning gold was the nature of the defeat - the fact that he was never really in the final. He'll get over it though, and he is still Wimbledon champion and world No. 1.

Djokovic would have been disappointed not to win a medal, but what a great bronze medal for Juan Martin Del Potro. I think he will be a real threat at the US Open.

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Chris Wilkinson is a former British No. 1

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Chris Wilkinson is a former British No. 1, who now serves as a tennis commentator and as a coach for the LTA. He is ESPN.co.uk's resident expert, providing an exclusive view on the world of tennis. Chris Wilkinson is a former British No. 1, who now serves as a tennis commentator and as a coach for the LTA. He is ESPN.co.uk's resident expert, providing an exclusive view on the world of tennis.