Tennis Birthdays: May 15, 2015

Two players born on the exact same day, in completely different parts of the world.

Andy Murray (GBR), 28

We won’t know this until all is said and done, and Andy Murray’s terrific tennis career can be analyzed with perspective.

Did he peak in 2013, with the Wimbledon victory so long dreamed about by a national of Wimbledonites a year after taking the singles gold medal, also at Wimbledon, at the London Summer Games, followed by the U.S. Open and an Australian Open final? Or does he have more big moments ahead?

It would be hard for anyone to imagine what that victory was like; even a Frenchman at Roland Garros or an Aussie in Melbourne AndyMurrayclaywouldn’t carry a monkey the size of Wimbledon on his back. An American could win the U.S. Open and it would be but a temporary blip on the American sports radar.

After that, Murray didn’t win a tournament for more than a year, until late that September in Shenzen (he won two more after that to close out the 2013 season). In between, of course, he had surgery on his back – obviously not a debilitating, “miss-a-year and hope you can get back” kind of surgery. But still a surgery that was probably long overdue and required significant rehab. It took him awhile to get back into beast mode.

Murray is a fascinating enigma, a bit of a classic case of a player who has so many strokes, so many options, that he still has yet to narrow it down to a few key tactics that will prove most effective. He also seems to battle the yin and yang, a need to be aggressive with a rather non-aggressive personality (on-court potty mouth aside). That’s a tough battle to have inside your head with every point you play.

His two years with Ivan Lendl proved impressively fruitful. But the busy Czech-American was unwilling to devote the number of weeks on the road Murray needed, and basically dumped him at the beginning of 2013. And then, Murray led the way again, thinking outside the box again to choose Amélie Mauresmo.

It’s a tribute to his character, his essential solidity as a human being, that he consistently defended her against the baseless criticism that came her way basically because of her chromosome combination. In fact, he said in a recent article that the biggest reason he let go the rest of his support team was in part due to their spoken and unspoken criticism of her, the blame for some challenging patches, rather than look at their own selves in the mirror if they were going to assign blame to others.

Sometimes, the good guys win. A year ago, Murray was at No. 8. Today, he’s at No. 3, having just run through the best clay-court patch of his life in winning in Munich and Madrid in the space of less than a week.

He’s a newlywed, too (OBVIOUSLY that’s why). Mauresmo is expecting her first child (that little inconvenience boy coaches don’t bother their charges with), and he has added Jonas Bjorkman to his team. A lot of changes, but it seems Murray has never been in a better place.

Leonardo Mayer (ARG), 28

LeonardoMayer1

Murray’s Argentine twin also is a very talented guy. But after a promising start, he’s still fighting to get into the upper echelons of the game.

He turned pro in 2003 – which is an awfully long time ago for someone just turned 28. That’s a grind.

Lately, though, he has picked it up a notch – or three. A year ago, Mayer was ranked No. 76, a long way from his then-career best of No. 51 in 2010, but still far from where he should be. Today, he’s at No. 25 (one off a career high reached a month ago) and will be seeded at the French Open. He’s solid.

Mayer reached No. 2 in the ITF junior ranks a decade ago – partly on the strength of his doubles efforts and partly on the strength of the fact that he’s a very good clay-court player and there are a gaggle of top-level ITF junior tournaments on clay in South America.

Mayer feeling the heat in Oz during a match against Feliciano Lopez.

Mayer feeling the heat in Oz during a match against Feliciano Lopez.

He got to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open juniors that year (after winning the big warmup tourney in Repentigny, outside of Montreal) He defeated Sam Querrey, lost to eventual champion Ryan Sweeting.

Herbert Fortescue Lawford
(b. 1851, d. April 20, 1925)

HerbertFortescueLawfordLawford, the 1887 Wimbledon men’s singles champion, is credited with a lot of things.

Being the first player to hit the ball on the rise, aggressively. Being the first guy to hit with topspin. Being the very first stylist in the men’s game. And, not least, being the first cocky guy on court (paving the way for the Novak Djokovics of the world).

Great information on him here; plus, longtime TV tennis broadcaster Bud Collins adopted the middle name and used it to moniker a long line of let-cord judges – back when they had let-cord judges.

Looks like he was an early adopter of black socks, too, paving the way for Roger Federer (and even fellow Brit Greg Rusedski, back in the day).

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2 thoughts on “Tennis Birthdays: May 15, 2015

  1. OMG, Darth Vader trending start way back then!!! 😆
    Love this section! <3 <3 <3

    PS: "And, not least, being the first cocky guy on court (paving the way for the Novak Djokovics of the world)"… I cocky is the better term to describe Novak. Muck better that arrogant! I'm still looking for the equivalent term in french for "cocky". Sometime you have to use the universal term…

    • Yup. The best I’ve ever been able to find is “fiérot”. Not used much in Québec. Even then, not quite right.

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