Well well well – last Sunday (1st February 2015) world number one Novak ‘THE MACHINE’ Djokovic did the bizzo again over Andy Murray for a third time in a Grand Slam final in fact – all his victories have come in the Australian Open (Murray won the Wimbledon and US Open finals contested). A match of outstanding tennis ebbed and flowed for two and half sets. The first two in particular the level from both players was of the highest order even with breaks galore – two and a half hours of mesmerising sport. They were shared in tie-breaks and with the game on a knife edge at 3-3 in the third set, a saved break point by the Serb was key as Murray did not even win a game after that – nine straight for Djokovic followed and a brilliant final had a bit of an anti-climatic end with a 6-0 scoreline in the fourth set. Murray will see this as a missed opportunity – he had the better of the first set (but lost it) – came back superbly to win the second – but you always felt that the world number one could step it up when he needed to, something Murray struggled to do with unforced errors at crucial moments and his second serve weakness exposed. Unfortunately against the best of the best you just cannot get away with those deficiencies. Having said that the British number one (and now world number 4) played superbly throughout this first Grand Slam of the year – he admitted himself his preparation was spot on and has vowed to be back in 2016 to compete and win the Melbourne Title, (especially after four losses in finals).
As inevitable the usual naysayers have come out of the woodwork – criticising the Scot for not winning. As I have mentioned he had opportunities to win this final and knows himself he has to step it up a notch including his mental approach, but he was playing arguably one of the greatest tennis players ever (8 Grand Slam titles now – joining legends Agassi, Connors, Lendl, Perry and Rosewall and he is only 27 and surely there are more to come) – and he has done what he did to Murray last Sunday to many players. Andy Murray is a Scottish and British sporting icon for me in a sport that has massively underachieved in producing players from this country that can compete at the highest level – leave the guy alone and if you are going to criticise – DO IT CONSTRUCTIVELY!!!!!!! I say. The future is bright for our Muzza – he knows he will have to up his game to add to his Grand Slam haul and supporting him to do this is the way to go I say. Well done Muzza – roll on the rest of the season – onwards and upwards to the French Open.
The so called ‘Magic of the FA Cup’ clearly does not go as far as these seemingly faceless TV executives who decide what matches are going to get screened live. Bradford who produced one of the biggest FA shocks in the history of the competition with 2-4 win at Stanford Bridge (they were 2-0 down remember) – but for some reason their 5th Round game (at home to Sunderland or Fulham) is not being screened live by either of the broadcasters – BBC or BT Sport. An utterly ridiculous decision in my opinion bearing in mind that the other team who pulled off a huge shock in the 4th Round – Middlesbrough who won at the Etihad – are having their game screened live. The other live matches at the time chosen were as follows – West Brom v West Ham, Crystal Palace v Liverpool or Bolton, Aston Villa v Leicester City, Arsenal v Middlesbrough and Preston or Sheffield United v Cambridge United or Manchester United. Are you telling me that Bradford’s game could not have been fitted in the place of one those. Clearly decisions being made not for footballing reasons there. I mean another match Blackburn v Stoke was not picked – maybe the teams are not good for TV hey – but then they loved banging on about the ‘Magic of the Cup’ after the shocks in the 4th Round – HYPOCRITES!!!!!!!
Manchester United are third in the Premier League, into the fifth round of the FA Cup with an away trip to Preston to come (no gimme but a game you would expect them to come through – even if it was via a replay) but lets be honest they are not pulling up any trees. Results are the key to football, if you win your matches then essentially anything else that is happening (or not) can be accepted. Football is a fickle business and this weekend they head to Upton Park to play a very motivated (they always are against the reds of Manchester) and now classy West Ham under Sam Allardyce, who are on the fringes of the top four bunfight. You know they say ‘take every game as it comes’ and for United a win is imperative – this match is actually the last of the weekend fixtures and they could start the match in 5th place and the Hammers would like nothing better than to make sure it stays that way come 6pmish Sunday evening and push their own claims for Champions League qualification. These are the matches that the former Premier League dominators need to perform in and get the required results or the bad press will rear its head again in standard cyclical fashion.
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