Andy Murray has won singles gold for the second Olympics in a row.
While the 2012 run was relatively comfortable – even the 7-5,7-5 semi against Novak felt reassured compared to matches we’ve watched since – the 2016 was anything but. An easy couple of rounds were followed by massive scares when playing Fabio Fognini and Steve Johnson. Still, he pulled through – and an easy semi against Kei Nishikori was followed by a nervy final four-set victory over Juan Martin Del Potro.
Del Potro is an amazing story – he beat Djokovic in the first round, then Rafael Nadal in the semi-final, and surpassing his bronze from London in the process. He was knackered going into the final, but didn’t let that stop him from giving Andy a huge test. I believed he would win, but he fell (just) short.
(And boy, what a final it was. I didn’t watch it – instead I followed it on live scores unable to sleep. The fourth set was just hell. They exchanged breaks, with Del Potro the first to consolidate one. That led to a painful game at 5-4, especially with the many long rallies that were happening. Somehow Andy won, and I’m still not sure how.)
But, last night was history for Andy Murray.
On a day when Great Britain continued to exceed expectations at this wonderful Olympics, Murray secured second place in the medals table, at least overnight.
For Andy personally, he’s just become the first tennis player to win two singles titles at the Olympics.
(And yes, John Inverdale made it sound like he was the first player ever to win two gold medals at the Olympics and yes, Andy Murray’s response was fantastic. Inverdale made a mistake, that’s all. He has flaws, but stop hounding him for a slip of the tongue.)
In an era when Andy has reached landmarks second, third, fourth, that is such a huge achievement. It’s a record which is his own and no-one can ever take that from him.
In an era when Andy has had to settle for second best in so many events, he’s found a field which he loves, and he can dominate.
Andy has always said the Olympics defines his career. His first round loss to Lu in Beijing inspired him to improve his fitness and dedication. His 2012 gold led to four years in which he has secured 3 Grand Slams and is starting to knock on the door for the World Number 1.
His 2016 effort? Well, it’s too early to say.
However, I’m starting to believe that as good as Andy’s individual career is, he’s going to be remembered for his efforts when competing for Great Britain.
He’s wonderful when for himself, he’s inspired when for country.