Andy Murray; Playing for History

Andy Murray “has just turned twenty-nine; he may have several years left as a top player, but he has neither the game nor the time to join the ranks of Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic in the conversation about the greatest player ever. He is no longer playing for history.”

The above comment cropped up in a New Yorker article about a week ago and it got me thinking.  I’ve always been a big fan of Murray so perhaps I’m a little biased but is that totally fair? Can he still be a part of the ‘greatest of all time’ conversation?

Perhaps not, after all he only (only) has two Grand Slam titles to his name, with a solitary Wimbledon crown to go with his US Open trophy. However, he’s also got an Olympic gold medal so a career Golden Slam is not beyond the realms of possibility.  Roger Federer hasn’t managed that and the Olympics in Rio is his last shot, the same goes for Novak Djokovic I’d imagine (he’ll be 33 by the time the 2020 Summer Games rolls around, so he could be a title contender then if he misses out this year but it would be less likely).  The Serb is also still seeking a maiden French Open title but that could all change later this week.

Then again it could all change for Murray as well as he’s safely through to the semi finals at the time of writing, and he overcame Djokovic in the Rome Masters recently so we know he can down his nemesis on clay.

As far as I’m aware only two guys have managed a career Golden Slam – Andre Agassi and Rafael Nadal.  Pete Sampras didn’t do it, for example, but we can’t go back too far as tennis only returned to the Olympics in 1988 after an 84-year absence.

So no, maybe Murray can’t join the greatest ever conversation unless he wins maybe four or five more majors – but that isn’t so farfetched.  The world number two saw his 2014 campaign wrecked by a back injury and last year he put a lot in to Great Britain’s Davis Cup triumph, probably at the expense of his own individual aspirations.  Meanwhile, Djokovic has been fairly lucky on the injury front throughout his career, but what if he gets taken out for a significant amount of time and during that period Murray cleans up?  No one will remember Djokovic was missing or struggling with injury at any given moment in the long-term, just as people are already forgetting Murray was plagued with niggling problems for around 18 months in the very recent past. If Djokovic doesn’t get injured the pendulum could still swing the other way, although he does seem to have been vaccinated against a dip in form – the man’s more consistent than a metronome.  Murray, on the other hand, has always struggled for consistency… but who is to say he won’t crack that puzzle at some point in the near future?

If Murray does win a title at Roland-Garros and finally grab that elusive Australian Open crown, who knows where the tennis historians will place him in the all-time list?  He’d have to be top 10, especially given the era he’s playing in.

For the moment it is premature – potentially even flippant – to say Murray is no longer playing for history.  He could yet become the only British male in the Open Era to claim a French Open crown, or an Australian Open trophy for that matter.  Maybe on a global level that isn’t such a big deal but when you consider he’s from a country where outdoor tennis is possible for about 2% of the year – that’s no minor achievement.   Besides, every Grand Slam win is an historic moment, whether it happens to be a first, third or 17th for any particular player.

To say he hasn’t got the game… well, that’s subjective. Clearly I think he has, and the way he’s managed to turn himself into one of the game’s most feared players on clay, having been fairly average on the dirt at best for years, is pretty impressive.

One line I did quite like in the New Yorker article (the whole thing is a good read regardless of whether or not you agree with it but anyway) was “Murray is a walking existential crisis”.  Because for the moment; hell to Andy Murray is other people, or at least one other person – Novak Djokovic.

You can read the New Yorker article ‘Andy Murray Versus the French’ here.

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Doctor Mark Bonar and the Latest Sports Stars Doping Scandal

I woke up this morning to the headline ‘Footballers ‘doped’ by London doctor’, but there is an undercurrent to this story that seems to have been largely overlooked, if not totally ignored.

The doctor in question is one Mark Bonar, who has been the subject of a Sunday Times investigation.  I’ve had to use the BBC’s report as I don’t particularly want to pay a subscription for The Times and in any case what’s the point when their biggest stories get re-reported elsewhere?

Anyway, Bonar was secretly filmed claiming he’d prescribed performance-enhancing drugs to 150 athletes both in the UK and abroad over the past years.  These athletes include a number of Premier League footballers, an England cricket player and tennis players.

Sensational stuff indeed – providing it is the truth.

Within the article the BBC make a passing mention to the fact he is facing a misconduct tribunal later this month unrelated to this apparent doping scandal.

A link to the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service is provided outlining the details so I did a bit of further research (typed Mark Bonar into a search engine) and came across an article on that impending tribunal in The Mirror.

He is alleged to have hidden a patient’s terminal cancer so he could carry on charging her for treatments and to have informed her she was not eligible for NHS treatment as she was not a British citizen.  Bonar denies all 16 allegations of misconduct – but what if they are true?

Granted, the two cases are unrelated aside from the fact Bonar is at the centre of both. But if these allegations are proven to be correct that would paint Bonar as an untrustworthy individual. A man whose testimony could not be taken at face value, regardless of the fact he was seemingly secretly filmed.  If someone can lie to a woman dying of cancer about the severity of her disease he can probably lie to anyone, undercover journos included.  The Sunday Times make a good argument and there is almost certainly weight behind the story but by the same token they have probably jumped the gun by publishing now rather than wait until after his misconduct tribunal. Maybe a rival was also aware of the story so they felt they had to run it, who knows.

If this doping story is on the money make no mistake it is huge – but before we go witch hunting for any of his former sporting patients/clients perhaps it might be better to wait and see just what kind of man Bonar is then re-evaluate the situation from there. The tribunal is set for April 11-16, so it isn’t like we’ve got too long to wait.

Dr Mark Bonar Update 12/7/2016

I’ve been keeping an eye out to try and find the result of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service hearing but Bonar’s keeps getting put back. Currently he is on their calendar from today until Thursday (July 14th 2016) but this has happened before. As soon as something happens I will update again.

Further Reading;

BBC article

Mirror article

Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service

UpdateThe Guardian have written something along similar lines to this, only fancier and with more research.

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Gonzo Sports Digest; Managerial Madness and More

We’ve had a busy day for a Wednesday, that’s what happens when there’s no Champions League football people get antsy, so I’ve decided to smash out a daily round up.

Chelsea hold discussions

Yep, Chelsea having a chat about whether or not to stick or twist when it comes to Jose Mourinho is big news today.  To be honest I don’t see why the Leicester result has taken such significance; the Foxes are top of the league on merit and their 2-1 win over Mourinho’s men on Monday  – who are at the wrong end of the table on merit – was no real surprise.

No one seems to have any clue as to whether or not the ‘not so special anymore one’ will be in the hot seat for the visit of fellow strugglers Sunderland at the weekend.  My hunch is he will be but I could be wrong, if he is then that’s the must win – if you can’t beat Sunderland at home you deserve to be sacked.  The Times have claimed Juande Ramos could replace him until the end of the season if he does go, but that is surely bullshit.

Guardiola will make a decision and when he does he’ll tell us about it

More potential managerial merry-go-round murmurings and Pep Guardiola’s announcement that he will make another announcement next week has sent the speculation peddlers into a frenzy.  Essentially we know nothing new, he’s still out of contract at the end of the season and he’s still saying “I’ll tell you before the end of 2015” but there you go, the former Barcelona boss speaks and everyone else listens.

Sky ‘football expert’ (when did expert start to mean gobshite? Has anyone alerted the Oxford Dictionary people yet?) Guillem Balague obviously jumped on this like a ravenous polar bear on an already wounded, blind and abandoned baby seal. He thinks Guardiola is Premier League bound, or at least wants to be, and Man City are the likely candidates. If that’s the case we won’t know that until the summer – if he is leaving Bayern but plans to stay until the end of the campaign then whoever he’s replacing, be it Manuel Pellegrini or Louis van Gaal at Man United, probably won’t be informed by their own club, although Jupp Heynckes was…  It’s all ifs and buts – and if he does say he’s leaving this could rumble on for a while, when he left Barca he took a year off and perhaps he’ll do that again, maybe he’ll agree new terms in Munich who knows?

Andy Murray could quit the Australian Open

Andy Murray’s first child is due in February but if his wife Kim drops the sprog early he’ll quit the Australian Open to be there.  That’s a big statement from the world number two, I’d imagine a title in Melbourne is top of his agenda aside from another Wimbledon win.

It has been a case of always the bridesmaid never the bride Down Under for the Scot, who has lost the final on four separate occasions.  That’s got to hurt, imagine if he has to walk away if he’s already in the semis or the final…

Chances are it won’t come to that, but it would be interesting if his noble words were put to the test.  Will he get straight back on a plane to Blighty?  Or will he be screaming “keep yer legs crossed ye radge bastard!” down the phone in Australia?

Brett Ferres’ dirty deeds earn NRL move

Huddersfield Giants have transfer listed England international Brett Ferres after suspending him for “conduct away from the field”, they haven’t reported what but The Sun ran a story about him nailing his team-mate’s Mrs on the sly so there you go.

Like most people who stayed in school beyond the age of 13, I’m usually sceptical when it comes to that nonsense rag but in the absence of anything else to go on I’m going to assume they’re correct.  Anyway, apparently his wandering schlong hasn’t put off interested parties as two NRL clubs – Gold Coast Titans and Wests Tigers – are reportedly keen.

Ferres must be in dreamland if that’s true, he gets to shag around and leave dreary Huddersfield for sunny Australia – that’s got to be a result in anyone’s eyes.  The other options are Salford and Hull FC, both notable shit holes (cheap shot I know, but it helps my point here so I’ve gone with it), so if you believe in karma he’ll be staying in the Super League and kept well away from any already taken womenfolk.

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