Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer play in one semifinal at Wimbledon. Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga square off in the other. The term “must win” has been and will be heard innumerable times between now and the end of the matches. Not so much for Djokovic because he’s won so much it’s tough to call any match he plays a must-win. Similar for Tsonga because if he won in the semis, the finals would be another must win and how many times can the term be used before its meaning gets diluted? Although we seem to be testing that theory.
As far as Federer goes, however, the duo of Djokovic and Rafael Nadal seem to have ended Fed’s run at championships. With his buddy Rafa out of the picture, winning in the semis could give him another Grand Slam opportunity in which he actually would be favored - just like old times. So Friday will be a must win for Federer.
If ever the term must win had a special meaning, it’s for Andy Murray who’s carrying an entire nation on his shoulders. Most golf pros, under oath, will admit winning the Masters is the ultimate for a golfer. Tennis pros, if truthful, will say the same about Wimbledon. To hail from Britain, as Murray does, turns up the heat. Since the last British tennis player to win Wimbledon was Fred Perry - in 1936 - the weight can become overwhelming. Somewhat similar to what Tsonga would feel if he were in the same position in the French Open final.
When Nadal lost (in the second round), it made this year’s Wimbledon even more dramatic for Murray. Why? Heard on one sports network: Murray only has to beat either Djokovic or Federer this year to win it all. Only? Not to mention he has to beat Tsonga to even get the chance to win it. Fall in the semis and he’ll be accused of looking ahead. Which is what all of England seems to be doing.
Murray has even compared himself to LeBron James. To hear Murray, who’s mentioned he’s “probably extremely stressed right now,” one wonders if he wouldn’t be better served to look at the situation as the former Buffalo Bills coach, Marv Levy, did. The Bills continued to make it to the Super Bowl, only to lose each time. When asked if that particular year’s Super Bowl wa sa mjst win, Levy replied:
“World War II was a must win.”