(June 19, 2016) LONDON – Was Sunday’s match Andy Murray versus Milos Raonic or John McEnroe vs Ivan Lendl? There was a moment…
Leading a set and serving at 3-1 in the second set, Raonic blasted (yet another) first serve and followed it in to the net, where he hit a perfectly formed classical backhand volley deep to Murray’s sideline. Murray immediately raised his arm and Hawkeye was consulted. It was out, by a centimeter or two. A few seconds and a couple of passing shots later, Murray was serving at 2-3 and holding for 3-3, and not long after that it was set-all.
Old-timers were ready with the historical analogy: it was just such a volley that cost McEnroe his only career chance at the French Open title! And he was playing Lendl! And leading by two sets and a break!
All week, Queen’s Club has been playing up the historical potential of this year’s tournament. Eight players have won the title four times: Ritchie, Wilding, Emerson, McEnroe, Becker, Roddick, and…Murray. If Murray wins this year, he’ll break the record. The press areas are adorned with posters of each of the eight players, lest we forget.
Where it seems clear Raonic can use McEnroe’s help is on covering the net. He has, of course, tremendously long arms (sleeve-watchers noted that he’d skipped the one-arm compression sleeve for this match, but it was notable that if he didn’t win the point on the first volley Murray was often readily able to pass him.
Murray broke again in the first game of the third set and held that advantage to 5-3. Raonic saved two championship points with fine serves, and then Murray fashioned a third with another of those passing shots. On the final point, Raonic came in – and couldn’t get his attempted volley over the net.
So Murray has his record-breaking fifth title and a nation hoping that Lendl’s reappearance in the player’s box bodes good things for a few weeks hence. Raonic, in congratulating him, wished him something he felt was more important: his first happy Father’s Day.