Monday, July 9, 2012

Great Expectations - Wimbledon

Roger Federer is one of my favourite athletes.  He's dominated men's tennis for a decade and always seems to carry himself respectfully.

On Sunday Federer beat Murray to claim his 7th Wimbledon title and his 17th Grand Slam title. (There's a good overview here.)

Murray was the first British men's singles finalist at Wimbledon since 1938.  And Murray's Scottish... sorry England.

The good news is that another Brit, Jonathan Marray teamed with Danish player Frederik Nielson to win the Men's Doubles crown over the weekend.  This represented the first British doubles triumph since 1936 while the Danes had never previously won a men's Grand Slam title: doubles or singles.  Also, Andy Murray's big brother, Jamie, won a mixed doubles title in 2007.

At least on the Gentlemen's side that just leaves the Singles title as the last remaining hurdle to breaking many years of British tennis futility. There's a good chance Andy Murray will find a way to win this before his career's over.

Having seen the incredible pressure each Australian player endures when the Aussie Open roles around each January I would have been shocked if Murray had managed to win his first Wimbledon final.  Pat Cash, Pat Rafter, Mark Philippoussis, and Leyton Hewitt were all great players.  It's incredibly hard to win though with the weight of a nation on your back.

I've done a little research and here's the last time someone from the host nation of the four Grand Slam tournaments actually won the tournament.

Wimbledon (Great Britain)
  • WIN: 1936 - Fred Perry
  • FINAL: 1938 - Bunny Austin
US Open (USA) 
  • WIN: 2003 - Andy Roddick
  • FINAL: 2006 - Andy Roddick
Australian Open (Australia)
  • WIN: 1976 - Mark Edmondsen
  • FINAL: 2005 - Lleyton Hewitt
French Open (France)
  • WIN: 1983 - Yannick Noah
  • FINAL: 1988 - Henri Leconte 
To give an idea of the type of pressure placed on Murray, look at the way the price of ticket prices changed once he made the final!

"Since Murray won the quarter finals we've seen a 25% increase in the price of listed tickets. If he gets through to the final it will be history in the making and we could see tickets being offered for up to £45,000 for a pair." (original article here)

I think a lot Christians feel like God puts a similar amount of pressure on us to live up to His "impossible" expectations.  This causes many to give up.  But after Murray lost to Federer, there was no groundswell to throw him in the Thames.  The sporting public will still build him up next year and cheer for him to beat whoever he comes up against.  They'll still hope for their "Wimbledon miracle". God's like that with us. Of course he's disappointed when we fail to meet his expectations or meet our potential, but he's patient.  He'll continue to cheer us on and love us even when we fail.

Whichever way you look at it, we're winners all ways round, 'cos of our connection with the one who loved us. I'm totally sold on the fact that, at the end of the day, there's nothing that can cut our ties with God's love that Jesus proved. Nothing - not life, nor death; angels nor demons; the now nor the future; nor any of "the powers that be"; nor distance nor anything else in the cosmos - zilch, a big fat 0. Nothing can cut off God's love supply to us. Nothing. End of story.  (Romans 8:37-39 paraphrased by Rob Lacey in The Word on the Street, 2004.)

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