If Andy Murray's sole goal this 2012 tennis season was to peak at the time of the grass court season to take full advantage of both Wimbledon and the Summer Olympics tennis tournament, then so far he has played his cards extremely well. On Sunday, Murray will face world No. 1 Roger Federer once again on the courts of Wimbledon in an all-important final. Just last month both men faced off against each other at the Wimbledon final with Federer winning in four sets. Now Murray will attempt to get some measure of revenge for that loss with his first ever Olympic singles gold.
I certainly didn't expect Murray to make the Olympics final this time. With Rafael Nadal out of the tournament before it began due to injury, one side of the draw would benefit from his absence. That turned out to be Federer's half of the draw (contrary to Wimbledon where Murray benefited). Murray ended up being placed in the same side of the draw as Novak Djokokic. Djokovic, out of all the big four (Nadal, Federer, Murray), plays more for his country in Davis Cup play and would be a bigger favorite to come through for his country in such a big event. Nevertheless, it was Murray who ultimately overcame all the distractions and patriotic fervor to defeat Djokovic 7-5, 7-5.
Now I'm trying to decide if I want to root for the favored Federer or the underdog Murray for the gold medal. Granted, Murray still has his little foibles that make it so hard for me to root for him. He still grabs at his back, leg, or whatever body part he can when things don't go well for him early in a match as if his supposed injured body part is to blame for a poor shot. It's something that other players have begun to criticize him over. He still at times screams at his box in frustration or hits himself in the head like a petulant schoolboy. On the other hand, he also has seemingly learned how to manage these emotional outbursts so that he can refocus his mind and emotions quickly. It used to mean that an outburst signaled the beginning of the end. Now they're just an amusing and entertaining pit stop to more outstanding tennis for Murray.
I have no doubt that Murray could actually end up beating Federer in the final. Murray has played some outstanding tennis this past week and he seems to be largely unaffected by the pressure that nearly suffocated him at Wimbledon. Knowing that he's not the only action in town may make him looser than he normally would be. Federer beat Murray at Wimbledon because the weather conditions perfectly suited his play. With the roof closed, the match became an indoor one. No one beats Federer indoors. If the weather cooperates on Sunday and the roof remains open, Murray can certainly beat Federer for the gold.
Julie is a featured tennis contributor at the Yahoo Contributor Network. She is a bit surprised at the finalists for Sunday's men's tennis singles gold medal match, but she expects a great one.