Sport on TV: Who needs penalties when you can have second-set tie-break?

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The Independent Online

There was a point in Andy Murray's semi-final against Rafael Nadal (Wimbledon 2010, BBC1, Friday) when a spectator shouted: "Come on Andy, do it for Beckham!" You instantly knew he was doomed.

OK, so he was already serving to stay in the match, and they thought it was all over long before then. But to invoke the spectre of our failed footballers is hardly likely to inspire anyone, least of all a Scot.

Becks was there with his son Brooklyn, representing British royalty. Sure, there was some chap called Prince Andrew but no one really knows who he is – unless his impecunious ex-wife is around to remind us. Sadly, Beckham cut as equally disconsolate a figure as he had on the touchlines in South Africa, powerless to affect proceedings in front of him.

Murray couldn't do much about it either. The crowd were behind him to an extent, but if the British are going to cheer any Johnny Foreigner at Wimbledon it would be Nadal, and that's because the ladies love those big arms. At least Murray got a big hug from the Spanish hunk at the end.

There didn't seem to be quite the clamour Henman once received, and although the vuvuzela would be rather out of place at the All England Club, Murray might have wanted a blast of its Scottish equivalent, the bagpipes.

On Today at Wimbledon, the Beeb's highlights package, we hadn't really seen much of Murray before the semis. The fact was that he had enjoyed an easy passage through to the last four, and his campaign lacked the drama of Henman's highs and lows. And suddenly he was gone, like the Loch Ness monster in the mist, or a Mars bar in the deep fat fryer.

Merrily slurping from their buckets of Pimm's on the roof were Boris Becker and Pat Cash, a German and an Aussie. They were mercifully kind after that footballing débâcle, especially given that Boris is a fanatic of 'Die Mannschaft'.

By Friday, the second-set tie-break had replaced the penalty shoot-out as sport's excruciating passage of play, and 6-5 had become the moment to choke, and then choke back the tears. "There's no way my matches were this nerve-racking," Henman lied after Murray failed his test. "It felt like he was a match point down," said John McEnroe, far more perceptively.

Earlier there had been a 6-5 moment for Tomas Berdych. He let go a lob that was called out, Novak Djokovic challenged the decision and Hawkeye showed the ball was in. The mind inevitably went back to Frank Lampard. But the climax to what McEnroe called "one of the greatest defensive points you'll ever see" was that it had to be played all over again as if it had never happened. So much for technology then.

Djokovic won the replayed point and justice was served. But what if he hadn't? In the end it made no difference, just as Lampard's "goal" wouldn't have done last Sunday.

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