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An Open Letter to Andy Murray


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Dear Andy,

Congrats, you did it!

You got your place in the annals of tennis history: ATP’s no. 1. Some years ago few people would have ever bet that you could beat out King Roger, Rafa or Nole. Those three were the rulers, constantly alternating on top of the men’s circuit since 2004. But you, you ran into the game and shattered the competition. 

By far your performance has been the most persistent this season, having confirmed that when at the top of your physical condition, you are unstoppable. I don’t know if this will be enough to make you the greatest player of our time, but it doesn’t really matter. At the age of 29, you have become the oldest player to be ATP no.1 for the first time.

Thank you, Andy, you got rid of an elitist system that has ruled the circuit since ages. Something has changed within the ATP and we’re left with no ruler, a bunch of prodigious young players and a few seasoned ones looking for the last dreams of glory.

There are still three legends outside, but don’t be scared: you are strong enough to be considered a legend yourself. For the first time since 2002, Federer is not even in the top 10. Yes, he’s coming back. But what are the chances? He’s 35 and unlikely to be in shape for the whole season. Nole has experienced the worst breakdown of his whole career this year. Immediately kicked out from the Olympics by the reborn Juan Martin Del Potro, he wouldn’t have gone so far even at the US Open if three fortuitous retirements hadn’t made his tournament easier. And Rafa? Well, let’s talk about him when his wrist is working again.

Next year you will be the circuit’s ruler apparently. But beware, the others won’t stand there looking at you. Every single player in the top 20 is now able to win against anyone in the circuit. You managed to make the ATP ranking somehow more democratic. The competition has never been that fierce. The wonderful trio mentioned before won’t certainly ease your job, but what about the others? Nishikori seems ready to take the plunge. Wawrinka is galvanised after his victory at the US Open. Nick Kyrgios, Dominic Thiem and Lucas Pouille – respectively 21, 23 and 22 years old – have made great strides and are to become the next number ones. 

Tennis has changed, Andy. A player is unlikely to be at the top of the ATP ranking for 302 weeks, as Federer managed to do in 2013. Tactics are no more valuable than physical strength. Why use a soft demi-volée when you can easily score the point brutally hitting the ball? Nobody cares if a player isn’t good to look at. At the end of the day, whether he wins the game or not is what counts the most. You’re not an exception to that rule and still you showed us that it’s not necessary to have Federer’s innate class or Rafa’s lethal backhand to be a champion.

Thanks for showing them who’s boss. You forced yourself to a severe self-discipline that is leading you to success, even though from now on it will be harsher. You’ve reminded us that giving up is not an option, whether it’s tennis or everyday life.

Stay hungry, Andy. Despite your bad temper when under pressure, remember that everyone admires you, as the general excitement following your triumph at Wimbledon in 2013 showed. Enjoy these days, but stay focused on the ATP Finals, they’ll already tell us something about your future as world no. 1.

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