Hold the Six O'Clock News – this is serious! Murray's chances just got a whole lot better
Thursday 30 June 2011
Tim Henman was in the BBC commentary box yesterday, as perhaps Andy Murray will be when the next Great British Wimbledon hope reaches a semi-final in the men's singles – that's assuming that Murray is not by then in his bath-chair, with a tartan rug over his knees.
Henman knows better than any of us what it is to feel the weight of a nation's expectations on your shoulders, and his shoulders weren't quite broad enough to support them, but Murray is a different proposition. Most tennis insiders reckon that the Scot will sooner or later win one of the game's four coveted Grand Slam tournaments.
Whether it will come sooner or later than this week, following a straight-sets victory yesterday that even bumped the Six O'Clock News off BBC1, is the issue being debated today from Dunblane to Dagenham.
Well, maybe not Dagenham. There are swathes of England that Murray hasn't quite won over yet. A bit too grumpy and also a bit too Scottish still seems to be the prevailing opinion, and certainly his demeanour in the quarter-final was markedly different from that of Roger Federer, who earlier handled his unexpected exit from the tournament with so much dignified unflappability that you almost longed for a spot of flapping.
Murray, by contrast, flaps for Scotland. Not in the sense of panicking, for his Spanish opponent Feliciano Lopez gave him little to panic about on Centre Court, but as in the opposite of unflappable. He grimaces, mutters, moans, chunters, throws his cap to the ground, even belts himself on the head in frustration. And that's before he's left the locker-room.
Doubtless intensifying his emotions yesterday was the uncomfortable awareness that his mother Judy was looking down fancying the pants off the bloke on the other side of the net.
Judy Murray had made no secret of her admiration of the Spaniard's hirsute handsomeness – indeed her other son had quipped that she might not know who to support, so perhaps there was an element, after he had again made Lopez seem hopelessly flat-footed with a heavily disguised drop-shot, of "How dishy does he look now, then?"
Meanwhile, with not too much excitement unfolding on the court, the commentators played their favourite game of spot-the-celebrity. This is especially fun with Boris Becker, who might have won Wimbledon three times but knows diddly squat about the inhabitants of Heat magazine.
Informed by his colleague Mark Petchey that the young woman in the tomato-coloured dress was Pippa Middleton, Becker paused before delivering the unarguable but less-than-insightful observation that she was "wearing the colour red".
Sometimes it's better either to stay quiet, or to get a job on the radio.
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