Sport on TV: Murray lets side down in grudge match stakes

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The Independent Online

Wimbledon it ain't, as they might say in Queens. The US Open is the kind of event where wearing your baseball cap back to front does not seem out of place. If baggy jeans hanging halfway down your backside didn't rather impede your movement, no doubt they would be on show too at Arthur Ashe stadium. Round those parts, they sprinkle crack cocaine on their strawberries.

So it seemed entirely fitting that a street corner spat should break out between local boy Andy Roddick and new kid on the block, Novak Djokovic. The homey Roddick had cast aspersions on the Serb's tendency to call on a trainer and said Djokovic probably had bird flu, anthrax and Sars.

Djokovic, strangely, did not see the funny side and took advantage of the latest grand slam phenomenon, the on-court interview, to strike back. "That's not nice anyhow to say in front of this crowd that I have 16 injuries and I am faking it," he said. "They [the crowd] are already against me because they think I am faking everything." The problem with on-court interviews is you can easily become a pantomime villain, especially in the States, and the baying mob duly booed him off. The broadcasters really did him over, game set and match.

Perhaps they should have just forgot about the tennis and brought Roddick on for three hours of verbal sparring over the net.

Before Andy Murray's match with Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina (Sky Sports Xtra, Wednesday), we were shown footage of a minor tournament in Rome when the Scot accused his opponent of hitting the ball straight at him (ah, bless), whereupon Del Potro shot back with "You are always the same. You never change. You and your mother". It wasn't quite a "yer muddah" comment, but it sounded like it.

Murray took exception and so the grudge between them was born. It was a surreal sight in front of empty stands, with only a bemused umpire and some tiny, shocked-looking ball girls looking on. Flushing Meadows it weren't.

In fact last week's match passed without incident, much to the chagrin of Greg Rusedski in the Sky studio, who said: "Wouldn't it be great to see some boxing on the tennis court?" This is the man who thought it was fine to swear his head off at Wimbledon back in 2003, after a dodgy call against Roddick no less, leaving a nation spluttering over its supper. Well, he's not really English, is he?

In the commentary box Leif Shiras went through the list of players who simply never got on. John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl, McEnroe and Jimmy Connors – McEnroe and anyone really. Apparently he and Connors had to stay in different hotels even when they were playing on the same Davis Cup team. Perhaps Supermac likedto raid Jimmy's mini-bar.

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