Not even two months ago, Andy Murray and Roger Federer met up in the 2012 Wimbledon final. Now at the London Olympic Games, they will once again be going head-to-head, and once again, it will be at Wimbledon, but this time, it will be for the coveted gold medal.
Although the rematch will be the same, there are many variables that will be different.
Roger Federer- From Favorite Son to Swiss Outsider
This will essentially be the response Federer will get in the finals. Of course, there will be loyal Federer supporters as he is one of, if not, the greatest to play the game, but the response he gets for this tournament will not be as welcoming as the one he got when he played and beat Murray in Wimbledon.
During the Wimbledon Championships, Federer was just representing Federer. He wasn't out to bring a gold medal home to Switzerland; he was just trying to win another major, partly to show the doubters that he still has the ability to win majors and to beat Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Now however, he isn't wearing the required white of Wimbledon. He isn't Roger Federer, one of the greatest of all-time and Wimbledon's "Favorite Son." No, now, he's wearing the red and the white of his native Switzerland.
He doesn't need the gold medal for his legacy, but he wants it; not for himself, but for Switzerland. He is still one of the greatest of all time, but in these Olympic Games, he's playing for a different country and is not going to receive the support he did at the 2012 Wimbledon.
Andy Murray- The Scot who's Playing for Great Britain
Around the British tabloids, there's a saying that has become common about Andy Murray, and it goes as such, "Murray's British when he wins, Scottish when he loses."
It's no secret that there is no love lost between Scotland and England, especially when it comes to sports. But when it comes to Andy Murray, however, the two countries are torn on who gets to lay claim to him.
During the Olympic Games, however, this won't be an issue. The United Kingdom—Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland—are all one nation, united for these two weeks in London. As such, Andy Murray may be a Scot, but he's a Scot who's wearing the Union Jack on his sleeve—a Scot who's playing to win the gold for Great Britain. Win or lose, for this match, Murray is British.
As a British tennis player, Murray will have the entire crowd behind him. It isn't just playing for a major, something in which is really only an achievement for Murray, because after all, he is a Scot. No, he is playing for something much better, for a gold medal for his country—Great Britain.
Why Murray Benefits From the Wimbledon Experience
At Wimbledon, Murray actually took the first set from Federer and held all the way to 5-5 in the second set before Federer broke en route to a 7-5 victory. This is really where Fed took over the match, needing just two more relatively easy sets to win his seventh Wimbledon title, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.
Unlike Federer, Murray got off to a quick start and really looked to be dominating play from the start. At the Olympic Games, it's likely this could happen again as Federer's semi turned out to be the longest match played in Olympic history.
Although, like Wimbledon, both players got a day of rest in between the semis and finals, it has to be a question of how much more Murray's quick finish of Djokovic will benefit him in the gold-medal match.
He has twice beaten Federer in a best-of-three tournament setting but has never beaten his rival in a best-of-five like he will see in the Olympic finals. What Murray does have, however, is great experience gleaned from playing Federer at Wimbledon.
Ultimately, this experience can only help Murray. Even though he failed to best his rival, he was able to take a set off him and to do so in a five-set match. Murray can now have the confidence needed to beat Federer.
He knows he's capable of doing it as he has before in three-set finals, he just needs to play his best tennis and come out strong. If Fed does have any rust from his long semi, it won't last long so Murray will have to start strong and allow the crowd to carry him through.
Can He Survive the Expectations, the Pressure?
For Murray this is more than just another tournament. It's a chance for him to finally show the world that his name belongs with those of the "Big Three." It will be his chance to prove that he can beat the best in the world on the biggest stages.
His ability to perform under the spotlight has been questioned in the past, and now more than ever, he has got the biggest spotlight on his back. The entire nation of Great Britain will be standing behind him, willing him to victory.
The question for Murray, however, is can he handle it? Can he handle the expectations, the pressure, the weight of wearing the red, white and blue?
These are the questions Murray will have to answer, and if he hopes to achieve the greatness that has so far eluded him, he will have to prove that he can, in fact, conquer the pressure and the hopes and dreams of the entire nation riding on his racket.
OK, so maybe that's a bit over dramatic, but I'm sure it's only a taste of how Murray is feeling. He knows what disappointment feels like, but victory in a major, or in this case, gold-medal match? He doesn't know what that feels like. There's no doubt he wants it, though, and if he can temper the pressure, then there should be little doubt that he can make it happen.
And the Gold Medal Goes To...
Most people don't get do-overs in life, but Andy Murray does. Against Federer, at Wimbledon, this is his chance to get the win, get the title, that he just barely missed getting at the Wimbledon Championships. He knows exactly what is going to be riding on this gold-medal match. He wants it, maybe more than ever.
It was one of the most emotional I've been after a match, so happy to win, said Murray. You don't see me smiling that much normally. I haven't stopped smiling since I came off the court. —Channel 4 News
He knows the pressure that rides on him. He knows what a medal would mean for his country— the one that at times has dismissed him as a Scottish failure instead of a British champion. He knows what the medal could mean for his own career—what this win could mean for him going forward.
It's about getting the confidence that he currently lacks. It's about fulfilling the belief that he has and giving him reason to think that he can in fact win a major and can do so by beating Federer or Nadal or Djokovic.
He can prove he belongs with the big boys; he prove that he's one of them. He just needs to overcome this hurdle, this inability to win a major. He needs to jump start his career in the right direction.
Getting a gold medal in London, in front of the British crowd, will certainly be a fine place to start.