Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Classic Matches - Wimbledon - Murray v Gasquet DVD

Will the real Andy Murray please stand up?
From the moment the two tennis players arrived on Centre Court, it seemed like an impostor had picked up Andy Murray’s racket. After three rounds of a comparatively simple passage through to the fourth round, with polite home support, his match against Richard Gasquet of France was going to be anything but.
Both players began brightly enough, although as the first set wore on, Murray’s service game began to suffer. Serving to stay in the set at 6-5, despite saving two break points with some exceptional athleticism, Gasquet prevailed. The Frenchman simply did not allow Murray to play his game, and took the second set 6-3. With Gasquet then two sets and a break up, and serving for the match; Andy Murray arrived on court, and boy, were we glad to see him.
For the first time in the match, Murray had three break points, and soon, for the first time in the match, broke Gasquet’s serve. Another service hold from both took the third set to tiebreak. The DVD is worth the money just for that exquisite, seemingly impossible shot with which Murray won the third set - and for his and the crowd’s unforgettable and unprecedented reaction that followed. That part of the disc will quickly become worn from the number of times it is bound to be played over and over again.
So what else does this DVD bring? Britain beating France, for a start, what more do you want? The tennis itself is simply scintillating. Rallies are not solely confined to the baseline. Powerful forehands, bullet-like backhands, intelligent passing shots, a daring lob, and of course that unpredictable Murray drop-shot. One can easily imagine him in the Wimbledon final with Championship point, putting in a drop-shot. Should that ever happen, most of the crowd will be taken away in body bags.
This match has action, drama, emotion, and a twist that you will not see coming…unless you saw the broadcast or read about it in the papers the morning after. It’s like Gladiator, only epic. The roars from the crowd were certainly more befitting of the Coliseum in Roman times than Centre Court at the All England Lawn Tennis Club; and it is heartening to see how everyone in the Court and on Henman Hill (sorry, Murray Mount) warmed to the young Scot, and gave him ovations the like of which even his predecessor has not seen.
For all the exciting rallies, twists, dips and turns the match took; it was Tim Henman who caused the biggest sigh of disbelief from the ten million television viewers when, in the commentary box, he obliviously asked: “Is it always this nerve-wracking?”. At least now he knows what torture he has been putting us through all these years; and at least this time, we came away smiling.
This is the kind of match that turns knee cartilage into jelly. Even knowing the result does not make the getting there any easier. It is terrifying to recall how close Murray came to defeat, and inspiring to see how he made such an incredible comeback. Yet this is why this match is worth putting oneself through again and again; whether for the thrill, the entertainment, the pride, or simply to marvel at the skill of these two young men.
However, of course, the DVD producers then had to go and ruin it right at the very end by flashing up a statement informing us what happened to Murray in the following round. They just couldn’t let us enjoy that moment of glory, could they? To recompense for this, they’ll have to release a DVD of Murray’s match at the US Open against the man he met in the quarter final of Wimbledon.

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