Murray mixes normality with notion of £60m man

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The Independent Online

With the hype surrounding Andy Murray hitting new heights yesterday, amid claims he could make £60m from tennis, the boy himself returned to action. He played in the mixed doubles with Shahar Peer, and it was a touching experience. Very touching.

With the hype surrounding Andy Murray hitting new heights yesterday, amid claims he could make £60m from tennis, the boy himself returned to action. He played in the mixed doubles with Shahar Peer, and it was a touching experience. Very touching.

In this particular brand of the game, touching is not uncommon. A high five here, a pat on the arm there. But Murray is nothing if not committed, and he and Peer, both 18, exchanged possibly a greater number of touching moments than have ever been witnessed on Court No 3.

High fives, low fives, finger-brushing fives. Even more fives when they completed the walk of a few yards when changing ends. And as they sat on their bench at the breaks, they engaged in what appeared to be banter rather than tactical talk. It was easy to imagine that Peer might have been asking: "So what music do you like then?" And then, remembering she's already read some of the millions of words written about him, adding: "Black Eyed Peas, right? On your iPod?"

They lost their match, 6-3, 6-3, to Lucas Arnold, of Argentina, and Emmanuelle Gagliardi, of Switzerland. But, in truth, this was not about winning or losing but taking part in something almost normal. Normal is not something Murray is likely to experience again for a long time.

"I wasn't expecting so many people when I got off court," he said afterwards. "I couldn't move." He insisted he did not expect it. "There were other matches on, I thought people might have been interested in someone else."

The youthful innocence was, appropriately, touching, although Murray did concede that having "loads of girls" wanting his attention was fine by him. "It's good," he said with a grin.

Murray and Peer hooked up for this tournament when Peer e-mailed him earlier this year, after seeing him play in the Davis Cup in her native Israel, to see if he fancied playing mixed doubles. He fancied.

Whether he will be quite as delighted at living his life in a goldfish bowl from now on remains to be seen. And a goldfish bowl it will be, one where questions are asked daily about everything from his coach - a decision about Mark Petchey will come later this week, and the Lawn Tennis Association have vowed to do "everything we can" to help - to his personal life.

Even on Court Three, there were crowds eight deep outside, craning for a view over the wall. Murray was mobbed at the end of the match. "Will you marry me, Andy, pleeeeeease?" screamed one over-excited fan. He will not be marrying her. "I'm too young," he said. (And we already know from a former girlfriend, via the Sunday tabloids, that tennis takes priority over everything now.)

The atmosphere inside the court perimeter had actually been quite low-key. Fans stood six deep on each side of the court, and a steward was even forced to ask, ever so politely, whether some of them wouldn't mind, awfully, moving off the steps. But there was none of the frenzy of Murray's Centre Court with David Nalbandian.

It was that match, a five-set defeat in the third round, that sparked the remarkable buzz around Murray. So remarkable that some marketeers are saying Murray will be earning £6m a year for 10 years. Even the more moderate estimates are startling. "He will go deep, deep into seven figures, and eight if he starts winning Grand Slams," said Jon Smith of the First Artist management agency yesterday. "He's only 18 and he has got plenty of time."

Not to himself, he hasn't. Not any more.

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