Home > Uncategorized > The boy done good

The boy done good

I find few sports less enthralling than tennis. When I was young, it was different. The women’s game was more gentle, and genteel; there were no screamers. The men’s game was dominated by guys who won with skill rather than endurance, and Grand Slam five setters tended to be serve and volley affairs, determined  quickly, before the guys on court ran out of puff. I liked the era of Newcombe and Roache, and Nastase, and Connors, and Borg and even the Brat. I started to go off it when Pete Sampras retired, and would have ignored it completely when the peerless Federer started to be run down by the superfit Nadal and Djokovic, but for one man.

It’s not because he’s Scottish, it’s because for all his monotonous voice and his dolorous countenance,  there is an aura about Andy Murray that not even the great Roger can match. Until this summer he has played the role of the tragic hero, valiant but ultimately vanquished, very much like Camille Desmoulins, as depicted in Hilary Mantel’s magnificent French Revolution novel, A Place of Greater Safety, full of drive and passion, but with a tumbril waiting for him along the road. If you don’t believe me check out his portrait:

Until the Olympics, that is, when he was lifted by the national mood, to sweep aside the man who had crushed his hopes at Wimbledon a few weeks earlier and to seize the gold medal. As I watched him stand on top of the podium, then pose with the runners-up, I realised that something seismic had happened. The introspective, shy Andy had learned to smile in a different way, from the heart, rather than simply out of politeness.

The great Bob Monkhouse had a line about sincerity: ‘When you can fake that, you’ve cracked it.‘ You couldn’t fake the smile that Andy wore that day, not could you misunderstand its meaning. So far, within a few weeks, it’s carried him to his first Grand Slam. Within the next year, I suspect it will be seen after a couple more, and as he rises to the top of the world rankings.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Norah Rothwell
    September 12, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Great result for Andy. Have been a supporter for a few years now and am so happy for him. Can only get better and better. Can’t wait for the Oz Open.

  2. September 12, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Nadal might be back by then, if they can get his knee sorted.. He’s beaten Fed at Wimbledon, Djokovic in NYC. Rafa at the Rod Laver would make a nice hat-trick.

  3. Joy
    September 12, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    No longer the angry young man – is it Lendl’s influence or his girlfriend, or could it be that he has finally made peace with the English and is happy to now have the support of GB as a whole? He certainly was singing the National Anthem, which was an even bigger surprise than his win on Monday. Whatever, he has now grown up and I look forward to even greater success over the years.

  4. Alison
    September 12, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    I am a huge, huge Federer fan and am lamenting the fact that he is clearly on his way out. The game now is all about, as you say, the superfit, and there seems to be no place for rallies and the skilled placing of the ball – something the likes of Agassi could do to a hair’s breadth. I can admire Murray without particularly warming to him – he has fought and fought to get where he is – no mean feat in the generation that has spawned arguably three of the finest players ever in Federer, Nadal and Djokovic. He can certainly hold himself their equal now, and that is something to be hugely proud of. He has shown what real dedication and application can do and he should be held up as an example of what is possible.

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